The world is going App crazy as iPhones, iPads and Android operating systems begin to change the way we access information via the internet. Yet, while many business people may use Apps on a daily basis for personal use, few in the established business community have yet to fully embrace them as a commercial option.

As Greg Jarrett, Founder of Digital Marketing Agency FiftyFootSquid told me: “People don’t have any idea. It is a very new market segment. People have been talking about mobile being the big thing for the last five years – but the iPhone is finally the catalyst that has made it come alive.”

Yet, as Jarrett points out, while awareness has improved, true understanding of the potential of Apps is still limited. “People don’t actually know a great deal about it. They’ve heard a bit and they know they should be looking at the space,” he explains. “At the moment most people tend to be exploring – say looking at a small R&D project as to what it can do for their business. Each company needs a different answer.”

For Jarrett with 17 years experience in Marketing and the last 11 in the digital sector, the key to anybody looking at mobile apps is understanding what, if any, added benefit an App can offer compared to a mobile-optimised website. “I am working on mobile strategy for a lot of people before just leaping into building apps, as that is not always the right answer” he adds. ”The key thing people need to think about when accessing the internet via mobile is reach – there’s other ways of reaching mobiles which are not apps, like mobile websites but the problem is getting a solution that works across lots of platforms.”

Almost every new report suggests that mobile access to the internet is set to continue growing and will eventually become the way the majority access things online. With that thought in mind Jarrett suggests businesses need to consider what ‘extra’ information mobile users might provide when accessing a site and how a business might be able to use it. “Most mobile phones now have location built into them, be it a GPS chip or the basic mobile mast triangulation. That gives you a whole different aspect to the information,” adds Jarrett.

“To me that is the single most important element of mobile: Location may be a factor in what they are accessing. You can serve them up with different information.” That last point is as important in helping target your advertising as it is in serving up content relevant to how your customer is accessing it. “Many people forget that people don’t want to type out a 20 page form on your mobile, so you need to consider mobility” emphasises Jarrett.

If the App is your chosen method then you also need to choose the operating system. As Jarrett points out “the iPhone doesn’t have the highest level of sales but it has a higher app usage than anything else. So for mobile, iPhone is definitely the platform but Android architecture take-up is growing pretty rapidly and will overtake iPhone in terms of app penetration.”

So your choice of iPhone / iPad App or Android App probably depends on how committed you are to the concept “In the short-term iPhone is definitely the way to go but it if you are developing medium to long term Android is going to have a massive impact and because it is open-source will more than likely be a bigger market, but I think that will take a bit more time before it fully matures,” advises Jarrett.

Are you considering an App for your business? If not, what is holding you back?