Managing Director Movemybooks
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Are Informaton Apps pointless?

8th Oct 2010
Managing Director Movemybooks
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Sarah Bradford of WriteTax mentioned her new iPhone app "Tax Savings Tips" to me via Twitter. On her website (which I think looks good by the way) she describes it as containing "21 Tax Saving Tips of general application".

I applaud someone from the Accountancy and Tax world taking such a progressive approach to marketing and Sarah is clearly ahead of the game in many ways. But I have a problem, generally, with apps for apps sake.

Surely, if all an app does is provide information, that information is better provided directly via the web? What value is added by wrapping an app around the information? I think it gets in the way.

What about when Sarah wants to add tax saving tip number 22? She will need to change the app and re-deploy it on the iTunes store. Her users will then have to download the update. Then there's the need to produce an app for Blackberry, Android and Windows Phone too.

Contrast this with making a small addition to a web page - which gets the job done for everybody.

In response to this argument, Sarah made the point that apps are an alternative way of making range information available - with or without wi fi, 3G. What? A smart phone capable of running apps that's not internet enabled pretty much everywhere? Not likely I say.


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By cverrier
08th Oct 2010 13:57


Not sure I agree...

Apps (running locally) can produce much snappier responses and richer functionality than a web-page.

Mobile internet is still WAY too patchy to rely on.   On First Great Western trains, for example, you start to lose reliable 3G while still within Greater London, and access gets ever patchier as you head further west - even losing basic 2G data at times.  (no wifi available on FGW trains, either).

In Devon, where I was on holiday recently, 3G (or even 2G for that matter) was incredibly rare - pretty much for cities like Plymouth only. My iPhone 4 didn't know what had hit it.  Even integral GPS wasn't much use, as it couldn't access any maps.  On the other hand, Angry Birds still worked perfectly!

The ideal is an app that locally delivers a snappy UI for displaying (and caching) data delivered over the web.  When Sarah then decides to deliver Tax Saving Tip 22, she updates her web-services, and I'll get an update the next time I'm online.  Until then, I still have fast, unfettered access to the original 21.  

This approach doesn't need the app to be updated or re-deployed, because it's just a framework for storing and delivering the content, which can be updated at any time. You only update the app if you want it to do something totally new, or handle a new kind of content.  Look at things like the Times or Telegraph apps for iPhone - local storage and fast rendering of web-delivered content.

Of course this approach means I have to have the technical capacity for running local apps, with all the deployment  baggage that goes with it, but Apple have demonstrated how to make that all work superbly for the consumer.

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Adrian Pearson
By Adrian Pearson
08th Oct 2010 14:24

Good points made

Hi Charles,

Your counter-points are well made, but I would argue there's not much pure information that won't wait until you can get a decent mobile signal.

Of course there must be situations were a locally installed application is much the better option, I just think the apps for everything craze often leads to misdirected effort.


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By leppam
10th Oct 2010 11:37

Aggregation of information = competitive edge

I very much encourage what Sarah is doing. Making small apps enabling to have access 24x7 to little pieces of information that helps you drive your business. Talking about financial accounting lots of structured information is accessable online, when mixed and matched with unstructured information on the internet combined with Sarah's specific knowledge and expertise she should be able to create one or more unique apps. Mobile internet stability? Just a matter of time. Maybe in Holland we are ahead of the UK but we have mobile 3G access everywhere. Still wondering why not more people like Sarah are taking the lead with other information apps, I also wrote a blog item about this 

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