Apps are the buzz and have been for the last couple of years. Everyone is saying, “I want a mobile app!” There’s a big problem with that though and it’s the same issue that people had when the web started to really become ubiquitous. Everyone said, “I need a website” which at the time just really wasn’t true (and at times still isn’t). What you need to do is define is what your goals are. Clearly defined goals will help you decide what will help you reach those goals. If your goal is to sell tickets to your next event, how’s a mobile app going to do that and could it be done faster and more cost effectively with a mobile web solution? If your app is only going to be informational then the answer is simply that you should let a website provide that information for you. There’s no point in getting someone to download an application that’s just going to provide them with the same information that they can get on a website through their mobile browser.
Traction? You’re not going to get more traction just by having an application on someone’s phone. Spend the time marketing and building a buzz about your event or your new product release with other avenues that will help with name recognition. Now, if the application is going to be interactive and have a meaningful way of generating buzz then I say go for it. For instance, we recently built an Android app for Lehigh Valley Health Network that allows people to put an auto responder on their phone for when they’re driving. So if you’re driving, your phone can auto-text a response that says, “Hey, I’m drivin’ here” or whatever you’d like it to say. This is an app that works because it’s a useful tool that is specific to the platform that it’s on. If you could do the same thing with a mobile web page, then there’s really no point in forcing the user to: a. download an app and then b. remember where it is on the cluttered desktop of their phone and then remember to use it.
So… Does it make sense to build a mobile app? Yes, if the app makes sense for mobile.
As always, think of your goals and the end user FIRST. Think of the technology second.