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The lack of guidelines or general wisdom as to which retailers should actually have a mobile app and which shouldn’t can be confusing.
In this post I’m going to start writing those guidelines myself, if you’ll stick with me.
There is definitely a burgeoning anti-app movement, fuelled in part by the move to adaptive or responsive websites. On top of this, the growth in app downloads is in sharp decline and we seem to be reaching market maturation for apps, in those countries that have highest smartphone adoption.
But what should retailers do? Should some still be entertaining the idea of a new app? There are certainly some great success stories out there.
Some feel that the consumer has no interest in using many different retail apps, whereas others think the goal of consolidation is often unrealistic, with consumers happier using a range of options.
Where should apps lie in a priority list of ecommerce to-dos? Which apps are succeeding and which aren’t? How do customer base, product range, internationalisation and other factors affect the decision whether to build an app?
Well, these are the questions I’ve been attempting to answer. Read on to see what I dug up. If you make it to the end of my investigation, you’ll find my own criteria for apps in retail.
21% of the global population will be using mobile apps by the end of the year. Your company may need an app too, but should you build your app for iPad, iPhone or Android?
One and a half billion people will be using mobile apps by the end of the 2013, equivalent to 21% of the global population.
Of course, mobile-optimised websites are clearly vital to communicate with your audience, with the balance now tipping in favour of responsive website design, but there’s still a strong case to be made for providing one or more apps as well.
But assuming you’re ready to commit, should you go for an iPad, iPhone or Android app?
Digital is becoming ever more important for the comic industry.
Although the industry is guarded when it comes to revealing figures, Comixology (which release digital comics from the major publishers and many independents) has cited reaching 50m downloads in January 2012 and doubling that figure to 100m only 10 months later in October.
Physical comic book sales have been pushing against the tide of declining sales in other print media for some time now, with 2012 showing a 15% increase in sales year on year, and 2013 showing a similar trend.
It's clear the success of digital comics is increasing rapidly and concurrently with print, and it’s Marvel, who in the last few years has shown incredible skill in rebuilding its own brand, which is offering a lot more in terms of technology and service in its range of apps for mobiles and tablets.
For many years since its release, the Android OS has been behaving like a teenager in the grip of raging hormones. Growth has been nothing short of explosive and the changes have been sweeping and profound.
With the release of Ice-Cream Sandwich OS, the UI standards and design elements have changed dramatically and the platform has really matured and even stabilized somewhat.
Nevertheless, the OS has retained it’s rebellious hacker DNA with unique features that are authentically Android.
Ask folks about mobile operating systems and most will probably tell you that it's a two-horse race: Apple's iOS versus Google's Android.
The mobile OS landscape isn't this way because other companies haven't tried.
Microsoft has done some interesting things with Windows Phone, and Palm's webOS looked pretty darn promising when it launched.
Throughout 2012 we saw speculations and rumours surrounding Facebook and its IPO. There have been plenty of doom and gloom predictions and Facebook itself has stayed tightlipped about how it is going to grow in the future.
So what's going to happen with Facebook and its billion users in the year to come?
The BBC’s drive to become the world’s foremost digital broadcaster took another step today with the launch of a new Sport app on iOS.
We’ve followed developments at the Beeb with interest over the past 12 months, with iPlayer updates, mobile sites and apps being unveiled on what seems like a fortnightly basis.
One of its most impressive launches was the Olympics smartphone app, which offered a great user experience alongside a massive amount of content.
For many companies, a native mobile app is one of the most important parts of a mobile strategy.
Unfortunately, although the costs of building native mobile apps are in many cases decreasing, building a successful mobile app is increasingly difficult.
Facebook, may not yet be an expert source for advice on consumer internet monetization, but when the world's largest social network talks technology, the industry listens.
So when Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg suggested that his company made a mistake in betting on HTML5 and decided to rebuild the Facebook iOS app in response to user criticism about poor experience and performance, a lot of people took note.
Smart phones penetration in developed nations has jumped significantly over the past several years, mobile internet usage has skyrocketed and there are now literally billions of mobile devices in use around the world.
Facebook may have dropped HTML5 for native to build a better iOS app, but despite the social network's high-profile breakup, a new survey of more than 4,000 developers indicates that HTML5 is not down and out.
In fact, it's far from it according to mobile app development software vendor Kendo, which found that 94% of mobile developers it polled are either using HTML5 today or plan to use it this year.
Analytics can play a crucial role in creating compelling user experiences and it's no secret that some of the savviest companies study their analytics data religiously in an effort to satisfy their users and customers.
Thanks to the rise of the smartphone, 'creating compelling user experiences' for many companies increasingly involves building native mobile apps. And that means collecting mobile analytics data.