But an iPhone presence doesn’t necessarily work for every business, says Tim Andren, vice president of Newport, Calif.-based 360 Degrees Strategic Marketing. A small firm should ask itself what does it want to gain from being in the iPhone space. “If you’re a hair salon, real estate firm or restaurant, it probably makes sense — as long as your clients have iPhones,” he says.
Andren adds that it’s important to have a methodical strategy before entering the iPhone app space. “You should ask what can I put in here that’s functional that people might be wanting six months from now,” he says.
He noted that up to two years ago the price point of entry for an iPhone app was prohibitively high for a micro firm. “It might have cost $25,000 to build an iPhone app, but now price points are coming down to where it’s very reasonable for a small business to consider developing one,” he says. However, for many small firms a simple Web site is fine, but for those firms where appointments or reserving a table on the go could be an attraction, an iPhone app makes sense. “It’s good to have a presence on different platforms.”
Andren believes an iPhone app can help grow a business because so much of a small business’s success can be based on referrals. “An app can contain simple info like phone, e-mail and appointment setting if you’re a hair salon that can be easily transferred to another iPhone user,” he said.
Chocano believes that “small business owners are realizing that they need to put their names out there in high-end spaces like the iPhone ... Studies show that by the end of 2010, there’s going to be more smart phones sold than PCs or laptops and now Google’s Android smart phone system is coming into play.”
Her firm plans on launching a similar small business feature for the Droid by March.
Smart phones also have a whole new window of opportunity to them — search terms. A key factor in playing on the iPhone playground is that there’s a lot of “wiggle room” when it comes to search terms that can gain a firm recognition.
A business can name its iPhone app anything that’s available and because it’s still a bit of the Wild West when it comes to smart phones, small firms still have the chance to scoop up some prize search word terms.
“If you’re an individual realtor and you can do an app called Dallas Real Estate, which will point to you if someone types that in, that’s great,” says Andren. “People are always complaining that all the good domain names are taken, but here’s a new opportunity.”
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