There are now more than 100,000 applications on the iTunes App Store. More than two billions apps have been downloaded since its creation and the Apple App store is still growing at 28 per cent every month. More than 200 apps are added to the Apple App store every day. The figures speak for themselves. There are other app stores too, but with the Android App Store holding fewer than 12,000 apps and BlackBerry World featuring just more than 3,000, the dominance of Apple in the app market remains unchallenged.
However, to date, more than 80 per cent of these apps have been consumer focused – the B2B sector has been slow to catch up. But times are changing. This year, there has been a deluge of B2B apps hitting the market.
So why has it taken so long for B2B brands to consider apps? The simple answer is that it is difficult to monetise an app effectively. The volume of apps on the Apple App store means that it is impossible for any single app to gain standout. If you’re hoping to make money from sheer volume of sales alone, think again.
First of all, to achieve standout, the app needs some killer marketing. And secondly, in order to monetise the app, it is vital that it has a strong business model built behind it. If a B2B brand has these two vital factors covered, then an app can be a powerful business tool.
The most straightforward apps are those that simply provide a branding function. As the app world develops, it will not be long before every brand will have an app – in the same way that every brand now has a website. As a branding tool, an app not only provides you with a presence in the app store but can become a useful part of an integrated marketing campaign. For example a “microapp” can be used to support a product or service launch in the same way as a microsite has previously performed that function.
However, the technology of smartphones such as the iPhone means that an app can perform a more integral business role, rather than simply as a branding tool. The ability of the device to communicate to and link with your in-house databases and systems, or even another device, opens the door to a wide range of possibilities, which a B2B brand can take advantage of.
Apple have recognised the importance of the B2B sector and introduced the enterprise development licence. This special enterprise licence allows companies and organisations to create and distribute customised software strictly for internal use, rather than distribute it publicly via the App Store. Symbian, Android and Windows Mobile let enterprises download installers from anywhere and install them on the device. Therefore, as it becomes more accessible and more applicable for businesses to enter the mobile space, we can expect to see the percentage of B2B apps on the App Store increase significantly during the next year.
If you’d like to dip a toe into the B2B mobile application space, here’s a great offer for you. Smartphone app developers Mubaloo are offering one lucky business a free bespoke iPhone app for their firm, worth up to £5,000. To be in with a chance to win, just describe your ideal app in 200 words or less!
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