If you aren’t a hardcore software developer, but have a great mobile application idea? No problem.
A slew of intermediary platforms have sprouted up recently targeting an increasing number of people, who have ideas for new applications, but don’t have the technical skills to build them. For the past few months, I’ve been getting emails almost weekly about a new platform. Mostly, they are targeting Apple’s iPhone, but others allow users to publish to other platforms, like Microsoft’s Windows Mobile, BlackBerry and Android. Many of them use drag and drop features to build apps from within templates. Typically, users upload their own art, and can feed in content via RSS or other methods.
The company list includes EachScape, MyAppBuilder.com, AppBreeder.com, GameSalad.com, Mobile On’s BuildAnApp, SwebApps, MobileRoadie, RhoMobile. Most of them are cheap enough to allow the lowliest of entrepreneurs to get started, but almost all see their bread-and-butter coming from small companies that want to cheaply and easily extend their web presence to mobile.
Some offer annual pricing, while others offer complicated licensing agreements, and some specialize in particular niches, such as musicians, or content publishers and niche magazines. Today, BusinessWeek wrote about the phenomenon by highlighting users of the various companies. Tom Johnson created an app to market his wedding-video business called Alliance Video Products. The app plays a sample video, connects users to a blog, and lets potential clients call him. Johnson wrote the app in one day, and didn’t write any code. It cost $300 upfront and $30 a month to maintain. He said it has lead to 10 leads and two sales, making it totally worth it.
Another provider — Swebapps, which launched late this summer — has already signed up about 800 customers, according to BusinessWeek, and about 30 of their apps have gotten approval from Apple (NSDQ: AAPL). The company plans to increase production to about 60 apps a month by 2010. Likewise, since launching its templates in July, AppBreeder.com has gained 1,300 members and is adding about 100 new users a week.
Minneapolis-based Mobile On has created a service called BuildAnApp, that can be used by a church, a small pizza place, or even a little league team to produce an application. The company is expecting to launch an open beta soon. President Anders Davidson told mocoNews they are hoping for the platform to be free, but then to charge users for updates. Total costs likely would not exceed $120 a year. Anders: “For most of these small businesses, this isn