Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Mobile App Builders

In this day and age of mobile ubiquity and ever shorter attention spans, it seems that everyone and his uncle are jumping on the mobile app bandwagon. I was doing a little investigating to see how much does it typically cost to build one of these apps. The anecdotal range floating about appears to be in the low tens of thousands. Unsurprisingly, a number of entrepreneurial people have sought to capitalize on this market.

Perhaps the most well-known of these is PhoneGap whose sponsor, Nitobi, was acquired by Adobe around October 2011. PhoneGap affords some degree of cross-platform (iOS, Android, Windows Mobile, Blackberry OS, and even Symbian [Nokia's former flagship OS] and Bada) mobile app development through HTML/CSS/JavaScript with a custom library for accessing certain native functions. This was probably Apple's original vision of how programming on iPhone/iOS should be done before they opened up the platform for native app development in Objective-C. The target market for PhoneGap, which is now an open-source Apache Incubator project, is the web front-end developer crowd who have extensive experience in HTML/CSS/JavaScript but may perhaps balk at the complexity of low-level concerns in Objective-C and the Android Java stack.

What about those without programming background? Well, they have a webapp for that too. They actually have more than one. MobileRoadie (affiliate link) supports near WYSIWIG designer creation of iOS and Android mobile apps. They charge a monthly fee of $99/month for mobile phone app creation and $499/month for iPad apps. The basic website optimizer app is free. Another contender is TheAppBuilder which charges $29/month but happens to ask you to sign over ownership of the app to them in the Terms of Service (ToS). The completely different service under a similar name, Apps-Builder has a wider range of account options ranging from $19/mo (restricted to a single app and branded by Apps-Builder), $49/mo (for a single app with support for monetization), and $169 (for 6 apps). Apps-Builder supports Windows Mobile and the Chrome Web Store in addition to iOS and Android. Yet another contender is Shoutem which offers plans ranging from $29.90/mo to $99.90/mo with a 1-year contract based on the number of installs supported. These services integrate with both Apple and Android's App Stores. It is pretty quick and simple to create basic apps using these services such as apps for reformatting your website for mobile consumption. They primarily integrate with the popular CMS systems such as Drupal and Wordpress. So-called plugins allow the creator to add Youtube clips, Twitter, or RSS feeds. MobileRoadie has the upper-hand in terms of being more extensibility and building apps that integrate with some custom web backend through an API. They also appear to have the higher profile customers such as the major music labels.

ServiceMonthly FeeMonetizationInstall LimitBackend SupportPlatformsOwnershipRelease Date
MobileRoadie (affiliate link)$99-499iAds + AdMob + CustomNoneYesiOS and Android
Shoutem$29.90-$99.90None<1000-<5000NoiOS and Android


  1. I really agree with your article.The apps for multi-platform devices is the need of the of hour and Abode, you guys have done it.Keep up the good work and thanks for sharing this update..Thanks for sharing!!
    Mobile App Builders

  2. great article. please keep helping us with your good ideas and your advices.

    Mobile Publishing


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