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Mobile-friendly businesses with 'appy customers


BETTING : Paddy Power launched their app in time for the World cup in 2010

BETTING : Paddy Power launched their app in time for the World cup in 2010

BETTING : Paddy Power launched their app in time for the World cup in 2010

In 1994, the world's first smartphone went on sale in America. Named 'Simon', the device combined mobile phone technology with computing features, such as the ability to send and receive faxes and update a calendar.

Fast-forward 20 years, to the Apple iPhone 6. Launched this week and referred to by its creators as "the biggest advancement in the history of iPhone", it is proof indeed, that smartphone technology shows no signs of slowing down.

However, a recent survey by Deloitte has shown a decline in the number of apps being downloaded in the UK this year, leaving a question mark hanging over the future of apps.

Despite this, the companies behind some of Ireland's most popular apps say that the smartphone has revolutionised their businesses.

Kieran Harte, Marketing Director at Daft.ie, says that the company's decision to develop an app in 2010 was a beneficial move.

"Apps have been a real game-changer for us. Our app has boosted the overall user numbers," he says. "We took a gamble on it at the time and it has paid us handsomely since. "

Harte says that trends in traffic to the site have changed since the company launched the app.

"Traffic to our website used to reflect the working day. Now, people are accessing our app at all hours. In fact, 10pm tends to be our busiest time these days."

Developing an app posed some challenges for the company in the beginning.

"It was a shock when we realised just how much resource was needed to ensure the app was productive on different devices. We had been used to producing content for the web which is a one-size-fits-all model."

Since then, the app has provided the company with many valuable resources.

"One feature that really took off for us was the nearby property search. The 'click to call' feature also makes it much easier to connect our users with our advertisers."

Agnes Swaby, Marketing Manager at DoneDeal.ie, says that the company makes sure its app is at the forefront of technology.

"We are constantly tweaking and improving our app, as they advance all the time. The internet is littered with apps that were probably a good idea at the time but are redundant now, as no work was put into them. Poor apps are a bad representation of a company," she says.

According to Swaby, the smartphone has made the internet more accessible for clients who may not be near a laptop or computer for much of their day.

"Since introducing our app in 2010, people are using it in all sorts of places. Farming is one of the areas on the site that has really benefited from smartphones. Even if farmers are out working in the field all day, they can still buy and sell."

Swaby says that their app's success means it will continue to remain a priority for the business.

"We have 500,000 people logging onto the website every day and more than 50pc are coming from mobile devices. The app plays a massive role in our company."

Paddy Power's chief spokesman, Paddy Power, says that the invention of apps has been a landmark for the business.

"There have been a few milestones in the betting game that have made a big impact, such as the introduction of screens into betting shops in the 90's and then internet betting. The advent of mobile betting was a big deal and that obviously goes hand in hand with apps."

The company launched their app in time for the 2010 World Cup, which gave them an advantage over their competitors. The positive response they received was encouraging, says Power.

"We were the first bookie in the world to have our app in the iPhone app store. Overnight, 50pc of our customers made transactions through the app and that figure has increased since."

Power says that the smartphone has also provided the company with the chance to interact with its customers.

"We also put a huge emphasis on social media, as people use their smartphones for a lot of their social media activity. It helps us to promote the brand."

Carzone.ie launched its app in 2010 and General Manager, Wayne Cray, says that the app has become an essential part of the car-buying experience for many.

"48pc of all our traffic comes from a mobile device and 27pc of people buying cars are using our app even as they are in a dealer's forecourt."

Cray admits that people are wary about downloading and updating apps.

"It can be hard to get people to install apps and the biggest issue is updates. If we update something on the website, it goes live immediately, whereas with the app, the process can take a few weeks and users may not even see it unless they update it."

Apart from the technical hazards, Cray says that the app's benefits outweigh the negatives.

"For our business, the app has ensured that we are a 24/7 showroom and we feel we are providing a much better service because of it."

According to Stephen Conmy, co-founder of The Appys awards, apps are still the way of the future.

"Wearable technology like Google Glass and newly connected machines like cars and household appliances will drive a lot of the innovation in app development. The best apps remain those that provide an easy solution to the needs of the customer."

Sunday Indo Business