Cutting-Edge Social Engagement – Your Own Mobile App

200811 app store at apple store
Image by superciliousness via Flickr It’s getting simpler and cheaper all the time to have your own iPhone or Android app. I have been watching the news on tools for creating your own using media, RSS and other content generation. I am completely psyched about the possibilities, but I have been less than pleased with the prices and constraints. Here is a run-down on what I have found so far:

Yes, you too can have your own mobile application! And you don’t even need to know code! By simply morphing your content (which you are already creating anyway) into a neat, little, iconized package, you can leverage the Mobile Web to expand your audience. Until now, app-making services seemed the domain of the big players. Recently, however, the process has become very simple and relatively affordable. Today, I found a tool that might even persuade me to make my own!

iSites: (link) This is the one I just found in an article by Ben Parr over at Mashable! that got me all excited to make an app and to write this article. The service launched today and allows you to transfer your RSS feeds into a complete iPhone (and soon Android) app. You cannot beat the cost: $25! You supply the feeds (most social sites – Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, etc. – and blogs have them or you can create your own). Then customize the look and feel. Click a button, publish in the particular App Store and voila! You been App-motized! For $99, you can integrate with AdMob advertising. From Ben’s experience creating his own app:

It comes with a lot of great features that simply make it work: video support, image thumbnails and the ability to “favorite” articles. The feature that I like most, though, is quick sharing, which allows the app user to share an article via Facebook, Twitter or e-mail. The entire thing just looks slick and professional.

We’ve seen other tools for creating your own iPhone app, but this one is one of the simplest and cheapest on the market so far. iSites even offers analytics on downloads, app views and which of your content is the most popular.

I think I might just do it!

While iSites looks like THE ONE FOR ME, there are certainly other options out there. Here are a few I pulled from scanning the Web (haven’t used any of them myself, so this is by no means a review).

MobileRoadie: (link) Although primarily directed at bands, this tool can be employed for disseminating any media via a mobile application. Link your ticket sales, concert dates or ecommerce site. Use your own graphics, or let Mobile Roadie do it for you. My understanding is that their apps are pretty slick and the process is pretty painless. Mobile Roadie offers marketing advice as well. It’s not terribly cheap – $499 set-up fee and $29 per month to maintain. If you use MobileRoadie’s hosting, you also pay 1 penny per download. But it might be worth the investment if your app goes viral. Check out the video for more info:

AppMakr: (link) For the mere price of a couple of Benjamins, you can have your own iPhone application via this service. It allows you to convert your RSS and Atom feeds (blogs, status updates, Twitter, iTunes podcast feeds, Flickr streams, YouTube, WordPress, etc.) into a downloadable, iconized iPhone app. Pretty cool, no doubt. The app can be submitted to iTunes as a free or paid download. Free apps can embed AdMob, Medialets, DoubleClick, and Google Adsense for more money-making opportunity. Just customize via the AppMakr site and AppMakr will do the rest. For $199, you are limited to their templates and branding. For $499, you can publish the app under your own masthead. Even with the more expensive option, you sacrifice some control in favor of the convenience of AppMakr’s assistance in provisioning, building and managing the application. Check out PointAbout’s quick vid on its service below:

Sweb Apps: (link) Sweb is an online service that also offers the ability to build an app without coding skills. There are templates for creating the apps, background image choices and custom icons. You can track usage demographics via an online dashboard. Sweb also offers mobile storefront incorporation. The fee is per button, with 4 costing $200, 6 costing $300 and 8 costing $400, a one-time set-up fee of $50 per button plus a $25 monthly fee. Also not so cheap.

AppBreeder: (link) AppBreeder offers kits for creating your own application, with pre-defined settings and “gadgets.” Again, no coding experience required. Covers a multitude of mobile platforms, including Android, iPhone, Blackberry, etc. The kits are categorized around your type of business. While signing up and a web-based, ad-supported app is free, monthly costs increase as you lose adds, make the app native or spread the app to other than the iPhone platform.

AppIncubator: (link) With AppIncubator, your initial investment is free, but AppIncubator retains a slice of the profits. Plus, AppIncubator has to like what you have to offer before they will submit it. MEDL Mobile’s iPhone application also permits development without coding by taking on the heavy lifting in exchange for a piece of the pie. You submit your ideas to the “incubator” and, if it looks good, they will create your app and promote and market it.

MyAppBuilder: (link) If you have content to sell, this app’s for you. The on-line builder permits direct content creation or RSS feeds, including Twitter updates. You input the information, MyAppBuilder creates the app and submits it for your review before submitting it to Apple for their review. $20 to process your data and $29 per month, thereafter.

BuildAnApp: (link) Another web-based service, that allows app creation for various platforms. There are templates, as well as the ability to customize graphics. This one is still in private beta, but seems promising with its offer of an email distribution tool for alerting people of your impending application.

Check out some other great, niche options here in this article by Sara Perez at ReadWriteWeb.

What are you waiting for?????

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Fried Battery. New iPhone

Sorry, Sanitation People
Image by Aoife city womanchile via Flickr

As you may or may not know, my 32 GB iPhone 3GS fried out on Saturday morning in a blaze of glory. An overworked battery was the cause. I was off-line, in the mobile sense, for approximately 48 hours. While retro-computing had its benefits, I now know just how much I really depend upon the mobile web. Try it some time, you might amaze yourself.

While I am saving my serious soapbox rant against Apple and its customer service until I can do it proper justice, I wanted to at least post my new iPhone main screen. Now that I have been forced to upgrade to the latest OS (and lose my tethering 😦 ) I can get a hold of some applications that previously were unavailable to me. So, without further ado, here is the current iteration of my home screen (subject to change at a moment’s notice, of course):

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Managing Your Twitter Lists With A Power Tool

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...
Image via CrunchBase

ResearchBuzz alerted me to a cool new Twitter list management tool: ListiMonkey (link here). ListiMonkey allows greater precision in creating and monitoring keyword searches by designating a Twitter list as the search base. ListiMonkey will then send the results to your specified email address at designated intervals. This works for your own lists as well as other public lists – a very handy feature if you trust the list curator. Updates to the service now make it possible to specify keywords you want and keywords you don’t want.

Of course, this slows down the real-time benefit of a Twitter search a bit, but it does increase the validity (and anti-spamminess) of your results. Plus, it brings the results straight to you.

Read the ResearchBuzz review here.

Have you used ListiMonkey? Any thoughts or comments on its effectiveness?

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Sobering Social Media Numbers

Facebook's homepage features a login form on t...
Image via Wikipedia

WSJ‘s tech blog Digits ran this article yesterday (link here) regarding conversational use of social media sites by adults. Author Jennifer Valentino writes that 30% percent of adults use social media sites for quick conversations, with relatively regular updates on at least a weekly basis. Seventy percent of adults are spectators – viewing these updates on a regular basis. Forrester Research surveyed more than 10,000 adults and, although the cut-off age was 18, more than 70% of those responding were over 30 years old.

The number of social media citizens is growing rapidly – nearly 60% of those online visit social media sites and maintain profiles. A mere 17% of internet users avoid these hangouts, and that number is dwindling.

Is there any doubt where your peers and potential clients are hanging out?

Hat tip to Resource Shelf

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