The local mobile app development opportunity

seems legit

I saw the sign pictured above yesterday while biking and had to take a picture. Signs like this are common in suburban Tampa, where I live, but they’re usually to announce that they’re hiring employees at the nearby fast food place (like the other signs in the photo), or a garage/estate sale, a foreclosed house that’s going for a ridiculously low price, or the services of someone who’ll fix or clean up your house or yard. This is the first time I’ve seen such a sign used to promote app development.

A quick search on the phone number led me to a local company’s website, which closely follows the template used by this site, this site, this site, this site, this site, this site, and this site. If you want to find even more sites using the same approach, formula, and even working, just do a search with this query: “bar & club apps” examples. They all promote a service that purports to enable you to build a beautiful mobile site or app without having to do any programming, available in three monthly plans — mobile site only, native app only, and both — all of which go for less than $100/month. All of the apps they use as examples have functionality that you can cobble together after reading “Teach Yourself Mobile App Development in 24 Hours” and appear to fall on the bad side of Sturgeon’s Law.

The existence of so many of these crap-app franchises suggests that there are opportunities for indie app developers in small- to medium-sized markets.

We’re still at the point where it’s unusual for a local business to have its own app and where an app would make them stand out. If you can:

  • Build a set of modules that would serve the needs of most local businesses — a “how to find us” screen, a “contact us” screen, a “menu of our products/services” screen, and so on (look at any of the crap-app sites if you need ideas) — so that building an app for them is largely assembling and customizing these modules,
  • do better application, user interface, and graphic design than what you see coming from those crap-app factories (not that hard), and
  • reach out to local businesses (this is actually the hard part)…

…then you’ve got the makings of a killer side (or main) business that these crap-app makers would be hard-pressed to beat.