Do-it-yourself, mobile-app maker big hit with business

Como’s platform lets anyone develop a smartphone application, all by themselves

Como's development interface (photo credit: Courtesy)
Como's development interface (photo credit: Courtesy)

For many businesses, the logical next step after a website is a mobile app. But, until very recently, developing the latter was time-consuming and expensive. To solve that problem, Israel’s Como — formerly Conduit Mobile — has developed a do-it-yourself, mobile-app authoring platform, which lets anyone build their own app, without having to hire coders, programmers, or anyone else.

“It’s a major revolution in the app business, no doubt about it,” said Como Chief Harel Tayeb. “We have over 10 million active daily users using Como-powered apps, and we send out over 20 million notifications a day for users of these apps. We have over a million apps in our App Gallery, with 4,500 more created every day for iPhones, Android devices, Amazon Fire tablets, and other platforms. The feedback we have had from app users and the businesses creating the apps is fantastic.”

Como, which recently rebranded from its former name, Conduit Mobile, has been in the app business since 2010. It was actually established in 2005, eventually becoming the biggest provider of browser toolbars on the Internet. Last year, Conduit spun off its toolbar business to another Israeli company, Perion. What remained was the mobile division, and in May 2013 it renamed itself Como.

As part of its relaunch, Como introduced the Como Console, a redesigned interface specifically geared to small- and medium-sized businesses, providing them with an all-in-one solution for creating, promoting, and managing apps for all major mobile devices, with no coding required. The Como Console’s expanded suite of features and services gives businesses everything they need to become an integral part of their customers’ mobile lifestyle and to thrive in today’s digital world, said Tayeb.

“That’s really what small and medium businesses are looking for in mobile apps,” Tayeb added. “These are small businesses that already have a web presence, but want to provide more interaction for their customers. The apps they can build on the Como Console allow them to present offers to customers, let them make appointments, and provide them with other services. It’s a great way for a small business to extend its marketing reach, and make it stand out versus its competition.”

The Como Console provides app builders with themes, icons, layouts, style, and backgrounds, along with in-app payment options for both digital and brick-and-mortar goods and services — such as customer reservations and orders, deliveries, coupons, loyalty cards, in-app sales, and other promotions.

In addition, the Console keeps track of app activities: It provides businesses with information about how the app is being used, such as which offers the customers are taking advantage of and their favorite feature of the app.

Anyone can download the apps in Como’s Gallery, and for free. Although it doesn’t cost anything to actually create an app, the free service is limited to just five downloads a month. For not too steep a price, though ($33 a month), businesses can have their app placed in the iOS App Store or in the Google Play download center, keep track of downloads and statistics, take advantage of Como promotion services, send push notifications to get users’ attention, etc.

The apps are actually universal: Como’s platform creates them in HTML5, a programming language supported by most smartphones.

Security, of course, is a major problem for any app maker. But because of the way Como apps are deployed — as HTML5 apps, they actually live on the web (specifically Como’s servers) — the company can easily protect them from hackers.

“Any activity that would require security, such as payments and checkout, are done on our servers. So the app itself does not need SSL or other protection schemes. Our platform is very conservative, in that we do not allow app builders to install any outside code,” explained Tayeb.

In a sense, Como is the Wix of the mobile world. Wix, of course, is the wildly successful Israeli web company that offers users a simple, do-it-yourself interface for building a website, with no need of any professional help.

Recently, in fact, Wix announced that it, too, was entering the mobile-app authoring business.

“There is a lot of activity in this space,” continued Tayeb. “But we think our model is best for small businesses seeking to develop mobile apps — and our numbers prove it.”

Como’s biggest selling point, Tayeb added, is value for money. Until not too long ago, the notion of developing a web app was considered preposterous for a small business, considering the cost of a team of programmers, testers, quality-assurance techies, and marketing people.

“We’ve eliminated all that, and, for a relatively small fee, any business can go mobile, giving them a much greater opportunity to engage with their customers.”

Li-at Karpel Gurwicz, the vice president of marketing at Como, commented: “Como’s rapid success demonstrates what happens when you break down the technological and economic barriers that have prevented many businesses from creating their own mobile apps.

“As millions of consumers today turn to their smartphones and tablets to shop, search, order, and pay, even the smallest businesses need to reach their customers on mobile devices. The tremendous growth we’ve seen since our launch in 2010 has led us to today’s introduction of Como — a distinct brand that serves the needs of modern businesses and allows them to connect with their customers wherever they happen to be.”

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