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Businesses have been warned to think long and hard before developing and selling mobile phone apps to promote themselves in what has been referred to as ‘application hype’.

Many companies are launching apps to make their presence on smartphones felt and to ensure they are not neglecting customers who use the newest forms of technology. Tesco and Marks & Spencer have both recently developed apps and John Lewis has followed in their footsteps.

But in a report entitled ‘The Future of Application Stores’, Forrester analyst Thomas Husson argues that companies should carefully consider whether an app is needed and research the functionality. For instance, will it require certain capabilities like the GPS or camera function.

He also states that businesses should be aware that apps only reach a minority of consumers. Hussan says: “Today, the Apple App Store provides the best application experience. However, only two percent of European and four percent of US consumers report owning an iPhone. Reach is limited in 2010.”

The report also suggests that if a company does decide to launch an app, they should quickly release an updated version if initial customer feedback is negative. “Consumers will review your app from day one and influence their peers and their social graph. Don’t neglect the viral effect of such reviews.

“Integrating live feedback should be the first step on your mobile application road map,” said Husson.

Many customers spend cash for mobile phone apps, but with retail ones such as Tesco, it is offered for free.

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