Sweb In the News

Heath’s Web-based entrepreneurship certainly is nothing new, but as technology expands, so do the opportunities for people who are separated by great distances to collaborate on business ventures, said Magaly Chocano, founder and CEO of San Antonio-based app developer SwebApps.

The company makes custom apps and has a website that allows for quicker but more formulaic app development. Right now it provides iPhone apps, but will begin developing apps for Google’s Android operating system in July.

“Actually, we have very few San Antonio clients,” Chocano said “Our clients are from London, Paris, even Saudi Arabia. We have clients all over the world. People have incredible ideas, and they come to developers, companies that strategize with them.”

A bold concept perfectly in sync with the moment: It’s what great companies are built on. It’s what shapes the future. It’s entrepreneurship at its best.

Where can you find that kind of thinking now?

We looked at 10 areas that are growing fast–from mobile technology and outsourcing to fitness and pets–and found 10 companies in each that bring jaw-dropping ingenuity to the table.

Read on, great things lie ahead.

Between documenting expenses and processing credit cards from just about anywhere in the U.S., smartphone applications have changed the way many small businesses operate. Now, more firms are turning to these apps to enhance the way customers interact with their products and services–and even boost their bottom lines.

“People nowadays want everything to be at their fingertips, and if companies are not finding ways to provide these tools [they] will soon see drop-off from their customers,” says Jennifer Shaheen, a small business technology consultant in White Plains, N.Y. Providing an app also offers a tremendous marketing opportunity, she says. Securing a placeholder in customers’ smartphones can help keep a company on the brain, which is especially important in this rocky economy, Shaheen says.

Building a simple app can be affordable for most companies. Although a developer might charge $6,000 to $8,000 to create a typical app, a modest app with fewer features could cost a company less than $2,000, says Jarin Udom, a developer in San Diego. The website iPhoneAppQuotes.com allows users to compare lowest rate quotes from developers.

AppMakr is also not the first service aimed at helping demystify the app-making process for those who don’t have a team of engineers and API geniuses around them. Swebapps, which launched last year, helps users build very basic apps for as little as $200 with a $50 start up fee and $25 monthly hosting fee. And Stanford University’s popular iPhone Apps course is available for download on iTunes U, with the first class offered for free.

The people behind AppMakr, which allows users to create multiple feed tabs for apps and monetize apps by either charging for downloads or embedding ads, sees potential for growth in Android apps, and plans to introduce a template for the Android platform within the first quarter of 2010.

Consumer spending on mobile apps are expected to up to $6.2 billion this year, according to a recent Gartner report. But Carolina Milanesi, Research Director for Mobile Devices at Gartner, sees a potential challenge in app stores keeping things streamlined.

“So far it’s a numbers game – the more apps you have the more you’re considered successful,” she said in an interview. “However, unless you have a good filing and search system, having a big number may come as a disadvantage as it makes it harder for users to find what they want.”

Apple’s App Store surpassed the 100,000 iPhone and iPod touch application milestone in late 2009. Branded applications are one of many catalysts behind the virtual storefront’s growth, as more and more companies turn to the mobile channel as a digital marketing tool. But for businesses with neither the software engineering expertise to design their own applications nor the financial flexibility to outsource projects to professional developers (who typically charge between $2,000 and $20,000 per app build), the App Store has effectively remained closed for business.

No longer–an influx of startups is enabling clients to create their own iPhone apps on the cheap, with no programming skills necessary. Here are three clever, cost-effective approaches to getting your business on smartphones.

Voting with your dollar just got a little bit easier.

Smartphone apps that push consumers to buy only from retailers that share a consumer’s personal beliefs about social and political issues are popping up in the app store.

Advocacy organizations are mounting a mobile marketing push to promote more responsible shopping with apps that give consumers the scoop on how a corporation’s policies and actions align with the shopper’s own views on issues like sustainability and human rights. The apps encourage consumers to only buy products and shop at retailers that share the same moral pillars as the shopper.

“Smartphones are changing the way people are living their lives. They (apps) influence spending decisions and this is the next evolution of that,” Scott Ellison, mobile retail analyst for IDC, said. “Make an app easy, intuitive and fun and people will begin to change their behavior.”

And advocates are hoping that change in consumer behavior will translate into change in corporate behavior.

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