Own App vs Third Party
With mobile apps, you could have one custom developed for your business. The other option is to utilise a third party app.
Here are some examples of different types of businesses and apps:
- Corporate hospitality provider for a top sporting event. You could have your own custom developed app with functionality you define (e.g. event info, itinerary etc). Or you could use a third party event app like ‘The Event App’ or ‘Eventbrite‘.
- Taxi driver – You could join a local taxi company who have their own app that passengers and drivers use. Or you could instead sign-up and use a service and app like ‘Uber’.
- Restaurant with a take away – You could have your own app development, with menus, online ordering etc. Or you could use a popular third party app like ‘Just Eat’.
What Can Your Own App Do?
In short, your own app can do anything you wish! However the more functionality you have, the more time and cost it will take to develop.
Your own app can be fully custom branded – it can be designed to look and work exactly as you want it to.
Your own app would be listed in the app stores with your chosen app name, your company etc.
What Can a Third Party App Do?
What you can do with a third party app is limited to what functionality that app offers.
Third party apps are usually less branded – typically you may be able to add a logo and a few other customisations.
Third party apps would be listed in the app stores with the third party name. There would be no ability to change this or link it to your company.
What Does Having Your Own App Developed Involve?
To have your own app developed, all the features you’d like the app to have would need to be specified.
The app would then be designed and developed. This would typically follow either an waterfall or agile process.
Once the app is developed, it would be tested, firstly by the developers and then by yourself or others in your business.
When testing is complete, the app would then be launched and be available to download in the app stores.
In most cases, you’d then need to market the app – to help users be aware that your app exists and to help them find it.
How Do You Use a Third Party App?
Third party apps are simpler and faster to start using than having your own app developed.
You’d firstly need to evaluate apps (usually a few) and decide on the one you wish to use. Often features and functionality will vary between apps, so you’d need to choose the one which matches your needs most closely.
Once chosen, you’d then need to sign-up to the app, typically also agreeing to some terms and conditions.
When done, you’d then upload your data and/or adjust customisation options to suit your needs.
Own App – Completely Bespoke or Platform
With your own app, you can either have a completely bespoke app developed, or have an app developed based on a platform.
Completely bespoke means every line of code is created from scratch and the resulting intellectual property is usually yours to own.
Platform means utilising a framework of already developed functionality / code. In some cases, it’s also possible to have bespoke functionality added.
The key thing with these is that both will look identical when in the store and the user will be unaware – have your name, company name, branding etc.
Cost – Initial and On-Going
Having your own app developed has a higher initial cost than a third party app, but in most case a lower on-going cost. Completely bespoke is higher initial cost than getting a platform based app developed.
A third party app has lower initial cost, but usually has higher on-going cost. These are often based on a percentage of revenue/sales or fixed commission / fee.
Other Option – Mobile Website
It is worth considering the other option to an app, which is a mobile website. This can be lower cost, but often less rich user experience and more limitations in functionality – e.g. no geo location (using the users position), no push notifications etc.
Which To Choose?
The decision between having your own app and a third party app depends on the problem you’re solving for your audience.
For certain sectors (e.g. takeaways) the third party apps are well established and can be the best option (particularly for smaller companies where the initial development cost of their own app can be prohibitive). Second advantage is people can use these apps to find you – e.g. they search for local Indian takeaways (and didn’t know your restaurant existed) and find it in the app and decide to use it. These apps also handle the marketing and often provide you with materials (e.g. window stickers etc.) to help promote and build awareness.
For other sectors, having your own app can often work out the most cost effective and most flexible in the long term. Having your own app developed using a framework can reduce the costs further and also speed up development time. For event apps, we use a framework meaning we can develop these cost effectively and also offer bespoke/custom functionality as well when required.