City AppMaker was formed in 2011 to develop and deliver a custom mobile app to towns and cities such that residents and tourists alike could have a better shopping experience. The concept was that a mobile app incorporating compelling shopping content would leverage the emergence of smartphones and assist mobile shoppers who might make their purchase decisions based upon information they could access while away from home. Both iOS and Android platforms were emerging in 2011 as leading smartphone platforms. After an unsuccessful product development cycle in 2011-12, City AppMaker invited R&B Communications in late 2013 to come on board as the technology partner to launch the product. Fully functioning iPhone and Android platforms were introduced in 2014 to power City AppMaker.
Organizing a town or city’s businesses and services into 15-20 distinct categories and then populating one page per business with an image, service description, and contact details (phone, web, map) creates an easily searchable “directory” for a town or city! Provided as a free, downloadable app on either the iOS (Apple) or Android (Google) app stores -- locals or residents can equip themselves for mobile shopping in a matter of minutes. R&B developed the framework to populate the mobile app with the town's information and then publish it per the requirements of the Apple and Google app stores. One of many nice features is the different access and editing privileges for users vs. store owners vs. town administrators. The store owner can only access and edit their own listing, while the town administrator can access and edit all listings in the town. Provisions for advertising are also included, which is a key component of the City AppMaker revenue plan. Either via “splash ads” that appear when opening the app, or via “sponsor business” listings -- revenue can be generated from the app!
Still too early to conclude much, but several cities and towns are up and running with City App! With up to 500 businesses included in a given City App, there is a rich shopping experience awaiting the user. The main challenge remaining is to motivate downloads of the app which requires an ongoing marketing program to generate awareness and visibility. The City App concept is a great concept; not just for towns and cities, but also for clubs or organizations interested in having their own app.
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