Application developer Widgetbox has introduced a new self-service offering for creating mobile apps quickly and inexpensively for the iPhone and Android devices.
Widgetbox Mobile extends the company's Web app-development platform to mobile, providing drag-and-drop tools to let users port their own content or add widgets and ad-serving to build mobile apps within minutes. The apps are formatted in the HTML5 programming language favored especially by Apple as a Flash alternative, but also backed by Google as an open standard.
As the focus on app development has shifted from the Web to mobile devices, Widgetbox has followed suit, earlier this year launching a mobile Web site-building service that will be subsumed by the new mobile app offering. "Mobile is the core offering we're spotlighting right now," said Widgetbox co-founder and Chief Technology Officer Giles Goodwin.
The company is not alone in providing a do-it-yourself option for mobile apps. Google in July unveiled its own system allowing anyone to invent their own Android apps using templates. A company called PointAbout earlier this year launched AppMakr, and Appcelerator offers a self-service platform for marketers and agencies.
Goodwin emphasized that the company was giving people the tools not just to create their own mobile apps but to bypass app stores to distribute them directly via social media, email, text message and quick response (QR) codes. "We feel that the stores are great for apps in the top 10, but we believe a viable alternative for others is not to use the stores and have more flexibility to reach your users," he said.
He envisions a market for its mobile app-building kit for smaller media companies or other small-to-mid-size businesses that don't necessarily want to spend $15,000 to $20,000 for a custom-made mobile app. Marketers creating mobile apps to promote events, movie premieres or time-limited offers could be another user segment.
That isn't to say that Widgetbox Mobile is free. The company has three different pricing levels at $25, $50 and $100 a month for different app-development packages and levels of customer service and impressions delivered. In connection with the new product launch, Widgetbox also named Ali Diab, former vice president of product management at AdMob, as a new board member.