I’ve been working pretty hard with my head down for the past few weeks (hence the lack of recent blog posts). I finally took some time today to catch up on my reader and came across a very interesting article on Mashable titled “Is Developing a Mobile App Worth the Cost?”. It definitely got my attention. Instead of simply sharing the article on Facebook or Twitter, I felt the strong need to capture my thoughts in more detail. The Mashable article reinforces my last blog post where I contest “only results matter” and “taking a business mobile starts by defining success”, except that it forces readers to tie the concept of results/success back to development cost. Or in other words… Return on Investment (ROI).

All development projects should be evaluated based on ROI. With the unprecedented growth we’re seeing in the mobile market, I feel like many businesses skip this necessary due diligence to follow media hype. Building something will get results – that I believe. But the real question needs to be, how can a business maximize their results based on a fixed budget.

Here at Aumnia, our clients are consumer-facing businesses that want mobile solutions to drive either customer acquisition (marketing/branding) or customer satisfaction (service). These businesses typically don’t charge consumers for mobile services since the business really has one goal when it comes to mobile… reach as many consumers as possible. The rationale being that with increased exposure, consumer-facing businesses have better odds to engage their target customers. Now coming back to the Mashable article, the author goes through a basic analysis and calculates the number of potential people a given mobile solution can reach for every dollar invested. He finds that businesses with a mobile website have the potential to reach 5x more people per dollar invested:

  • Mobile websites: 2839 people per $
  • Mobile app (iPhone only): 527 people per $
  • Mobile app (iPhone, Android, and BlackBerry): 599 people per $

The calculation assumes average development costs of $30K for a cross-platform mobile website and $30K per mobile application. To see the rest of the assumptions, read the article.

I’m really excited to see an article like this come out. I hope it encourages more businesses to take the time and really evaluate their mobile strategy.