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The “Smart” (Phone) Money Is on Apps to Win & Tablets to Show!

March 3, 2011

(By John Westra is Director, NuWave Government Solutions. From the Small Business Association of Michigan’s member-only Focus on Small Business magazine.)

Why are (apps) running on iPhones, iPads and Android powered Phones & Tablets fast becoming an indispensible part of every “Smart” Small Business Toolkit?

In the past 24 months, we’ve witnessed an explosive growth in the use of “Smart Phones.” In 2007 an In-Stat study, commissioned by CIO magazine, estimated “The number of smart phones in use throughout the world will increase by an average of 33 percent each year through 2012.” A report released this November by Canalys, a company that tracks technology market data, reveals 3rd quarter 2010 smart phone sales “grew by 95 percent, compared with the same period last year, with total sales for the quarter reaching 81 million devices!”

The key factor driving this incredible growth in smart phones is Mobile Applications (Apps). People have fallen in love with the incredible variety of personal and business applications at their fingertips. These mobile apps keep them constantly connected to their friends, business associates and an ever-expanding wealth of information in the Internet Cloud. People also love the touch-oriented user interface of mobile applications that allows them to quickly touch, flip, drag and click their way to the information they want.

These mobile applications are so popular; they are also driving record sales of a whole new class of mobile device, the “Tablet Computer.” Tablet computers like the iPad and Android-powered Samsung Galaxy are listed as the most frequently asked for technology item for Christmas 2010. They are so popular, they are expected to outsell netbooks, the smaller less powerful cousins of laptops and the darling of Christmas 2009, by a ratio of 2:1!
Tablet computers and apps offer the same type of “instant-on,” touch-based user interface as smart phones, with the advantage of increased screen real-estate and more peripheral options. These peripheral options, which are also available for some smart phones, include wireless keyboards, mice, external storage and docking stations that offer a quick connection to larger displays, wired network connections, printers, etc.

Between their use on smart phones and tablets, the number of apps being downloaded is staggering. Earlier this year, Steve Jobs of Apple was quoted as saying: “Three billion applications downloaded in less than 18 months – this is like nothing we’ve ever seen before.” The market for Android applications is no different, with the main Android app Market reporting over 100,000 applications available for download as of October 2010, and tens of thousands downloaded each day.

Although iPhones and Androidbased (Droid) phones are the fasted growing mobile application platforms, Rim (BlackBerry) still has the largest installed base of legacy smart phones. Their latest Torch (smart phone) and PlayBook (tablet) offerings are the first BlackBerry devices to include a touch-style application interface. Nokia, another once dominant smart phone vendor, uses the Symbian touch-style interface on their latest phones. Microsoft has just introduced their Windows Phone 7 series that sports a unique style of touch interface that may or may not appear on future tablet devices. Unless there is some type of divine intervention, the pioneering Palm (HP WebOS) smartphone platform is dead (R.I.P.).

So what does this mad rush towards mobile applications have to do with Small Business? Mobile applications give you and your team the ability to be productive and stay connected to each other, clients/customers and prospects 24/7/365, limited only by increasingly ubiquitous carrier and WiFi access. Mobile applications are also transforming the way people connect with advertisers in a way the traditional media channels of Print, Radio, TV and even the Internet have never been able to do.

Once we eliminate games, strictly personal and poor quality applications, we are still left with hundreds of high-quality apps to choose from. Take a moment to check out SBAM’s website, www.sbam. org/JanuaryTechTips, where we take a detailed look at the ways small businesses can benefit from some of the “best of breed” mobile applications available and why you should consider adding them to your own mobile app strategy. We will evaluate in detail the following:

  • E mail & PIM (Personal Information Manager)
  • Apps / CRM (Customer Relationship Management)
  • Google Apps
  • TouchDown
  • Salesforce (Via Web)
  • Social Media Applications
  • Location Awareness
  • Applications
  • Data on the Go Applications
  • Financial Data Applications

John Westra is Director, NuWave Government Solutions. He can be contacted at

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