App Store clamping down on event app developers

Ever since Apple heralded in the age of mobile apps with the launch of the App Store in 2008, iPhone and iPad owners have been able to download a wealth of applications designed to help them live, work, and play. However, not all of these apps reached the high standards Apple expects; despite developers having to go through a fairly rigorous application process, some spam and cloned apps still managed to make their way into the App Store and onto customers’ devices.

As a result, Apple has recently announced that they have updated their application Review Guidelines following this summer’s WWDC keynote event, with one big change specifically targeting the issue of “cloned” apps:

“4.2.6 Apps created from a commercialized template or app generation service will be rejected.”

The impact of this revision will be particularly felt by event organisers and exhibitors who usually purchase white-labeled apps; platforms created by agencies who spin out out similar versions of the same app for each client they work with. In these cases, the agencies will generally have a base app that they modify the content and branding of to suit their customers.

As many event app developers work in this way, rebranding apps on a per-event or per-client basis, businesses that normally rely on such solutions for capturing data during events are going to have to explore other options.

What else can you do?

The main reason companies opt for white-labeled apps is cost: because the developers are cloning and editing a template rather than creating a bespoke app from scratch, the app takes hours or days to produce rather than weeks. This saving is generally passed on to the event organiser, who gets a fully-functional app for their event without having to pay extortionate amounts of money – especially attractive for event organisers running lots of events.

Now these apps are being phased out of the App Store, businesses who want to capture data or leads electronically are going to need to seek alternative solutions, so we’ve conducted some research into the various options available:

Use a different device

This change currently only applies to iOS devices, so you could pay a pretty penny to swap all your iPhones and iPads for Android phones and tablets or laptops. However, there’s no guarantee that the Google Play Store won’t follow suit in future, and laptops are much more unwieldy than hand-held devices – not ideal when you’re trying to get a potential customer to fill in their details and your stand’s running low on table space.

Bespoke builds

If your company has deep enough pockets and you think you’ll make a return on your investment, you could splash out on a completely bespoke app that contains all the features you could wish for.

However, since this is by far the most expensive option, it’s probably only worth it for very regular exhibitors or event organisers with complex needs. They also require maintenance and support, so make sure you factor in these additional costs when budgeting. You should also be aware of the inflexible nature of apps – if you notice an error in the middle of an event or need to add functionality, you may not be able to due to approval processes e.g. Apple’s long winded process.

SaaS Solutions

Instead of bespoke builds, you could instead opt for a SaaS (Software as a Service) solution. The rise of SaaS has created new software applications designed to solve specific business challenges. Mobile Lead Capture solutions are helping businesses that regularly exhibit bridge the gap between meeting a lead on the trade show floor and the start of their marketing and sales process.

Direct integration with some of the most expensive infrastructure marketing and sales teams invest in is a great advantage of this type of product. Every other corporate marketing channel is measurable and accountable, so why not events?

A SaaS solution is truly modern and scalable approach that scales with your business. It’s the same model as used across the majority of business software over the last few years, from Microsoft Office to marketing automation and CRM solutions such as SalesForce.

The ongoing licence arrangements that are commonplace with SaaS mean that you benefit from rolling upgrades, constant support, and, depending on your supplier, a much richer customer service experience – all of which are usually included in the costs of your SaaS package (unlike bespoke solutions which are pay-as-you-go and in the long run usually expensive to maintain).

Web apps

Exhibitors may circumnavigate the App Store issue by choosing not to have a downloadable app at all, instead using a browser-based solution. The biggest downside with this is that web apps often rely on a decent internet connection, which is notoriously difficult to come by at many events. Relying on poor show wi-fi or congested 4G internet is a risky strategy – although internet connectivity and availability improves a little with each year, poor (or expensive) connections are a blight on event marketing operations. Also, from a security point of view, it’s far harder to strongly secure a web app to the same level as a dedicated, compiled and signed application from a known supplier.

Hopefully you’ll manage to find the right solution for your business, even if this requires a change of approach. If you’d like to read more about the various options available for capturing your leads’ data at events, take a look at The Event Lead Capture App Checklist, or feel free to contact our team to find out how Akkroo can work for you.