Realtor Nick Galiano wanted to create a downloadable application that would let clients browse his firm’s home listings from mobile phones. Professional software developers wanted him to cough up $30,000 for a trio of apps for Apple’s (AAPL) iPhone, Research In Motion’s (RIMM) BlackBerry, and devices using Google’s (GOOG) Android operating system. Then he found Appsbar, a Deerfield Beach (Fla.)-based company that builds apps at no charge, seeking instead to make money from advertising placed inside the apps.
“It’s amazing how you can create something in a couple of hours that would have taken a company $10,000 and six to eight weeks to develop,” says Galiano, who built the app for his Metairie La.-based company using the Appsbar website.
Small business owners eager to create mobile apps, whether to market services to customers or improve internal productivity, are finding a growing array of alternatives to hiring professional programmers. Aside from Appsbar, the list also features such companies as MyAppBuilder, AppBreeder, AppsGeyser, Mobile Roadie, and Socialize, which makes the AppMakr tool.
Appsbar Founder Scott Hirsch says he got the idea to start his company while running another business, when he was shocked to discover how expensive apps were and how long they took to develop. “I thought, ‘this is ridiculous,’” he says. To have a custom app developed could cost anywhere from $10,000 to $100,000 and take six weeks to 12 weeks, he says.
Appsbar mainly caters to small and midsized businesses such as bars, gyms, banks, event planners, and accounting firms. The service has amassed 60,000 users since it began in April 2011. While Appsbar doesn’t charge fees, clients must agree to let the company place ads inside apps available through online bazaars, such as Apple’s App Store. “Apps are the fastest growing thing in the history of consumer products,” Hirsch says.
“Everyone is impressed by how fast it’s growing and I think it’s just starting.”
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