Create an App in a Snap

Since my previous posts on mobile devices, they’ve continued to gain traction.  Just last week, Forbes Magazine reported that a recent Pew study found that 85 percent of all American adults own a cell phone.  Moreover, consumers are using phones for a variety of new purposes.  A Pew Reportreleased October 19, 2010, found the following:

  • 7% of cell owners have used their phone to look up health or medical information and 29% of cell owners ages 18-29 have done such searches.
  • 9% of cell owners have software applications or “apps” on their phones that help them track or manage their health. Some 15% of those ages 18-29 have such apps.

Just as consumers are beginning to use phones to organize and locate health or medical information, it is only a matter of time before they eventually turn to their phones for legal information as well.  The question is, will your firm be ready?

I previously posted some tips about how lawyers could prepare themselves for a mobile-era, including optimizing websites for viewing on cell phones, adopting video which can be viewed fairly easily on a phone and even developing law firm apps.  Well now, there are more options than ever to develop an app for your firm, ranging from do-it-yourself to hiring a developer.

These new advancements mean that apps aren’t just for big firms. In fact,Mashable lays out more than a dozen different options for app development targeted specifically at small firms.

On the DIY end, options include Google’s recent App Inventor, which creates apps for Android, or Appbreeder.com, a web-based platform for developing iphone apps.

Read, Write, Web offers thirteen more DIY options, coding skills not required. One app that immediately caught my attention is Ebook app which will convert ebooks into phone apps.

For lawyers who lack the patience, or want to commission a more ambitious app, outsourcing is an option. Mashable recommends Odesk or elance as a source for finding app developers, as well as companies likeTheyMakeApps.com which is a mobile app development agency.

One option that none of these sites have mentioned is for lawyers to collaborate on an basic app which could be adapted to their specific markets and branded with their firm name. For example, five different bankruptcy firms (presumably non-competitors) could pool their resources to develop a bankruptcy “means test” app and then “brand” the app with their respective logos. This approach would enable firms to share the cost of development and save money.

So maybe it’s time to get busy and develop an app for your firm. Even though there isn’t necessarily “an app for that,” there are plenty of other options.