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Apps for Small Businesses

For most small businesses three or four years ago, getting a mobile app commissioned and built was pie-in-the-sky thinking – something that wouldn’t happen unless the owner was particularly ambitious. Even if they had the money for it, developing an app requires an active and talented development team, and building a basic framework for your app can take far longer than Anticipated.
However, it seems that attitudes towards small business apps are changing. Many small businesses seek a bespoke app for their company for a variety of reasons. Some see it as an opportunity to boost awareness of the brand, whereas others see it as a way to boost sales or to get their company into a competitive market. Whatever the reason, app development’s an attractive proposition in 2018.
The benefits of owning an app are numerous. Firstly, as internet users are switching to mobile internet use over desktop and people integrate their smartphone into their daily life, the chance of your company getting noticed is higher than it ever has been. People spend more time on mobile apps nowadays than they do watching the TV or using the internet on their home computer.
Apps are also a conduit to a wide variety of eCommerce transactions, making it easier for customers to buy, examine or consider your products. Apps can also help set your brand in stone, with the app design helping to reinforce brand imagery. Push notifications can be sent to boost app engagement, or to announce new products/deals.
There’s also the benefits that the app can present to a user: discounts, loyalty points, push notes that can tell them anything they need to know about their products or services and so on are just some of the features that an app can possess. There’s a misconception that apps are extremely expensive to build, but due to the prevalence of app-building software, an app can be produced for virtually nothing past the software license and server costs.
Compatibility between devices can be a problem, but the vast majority of smartphone users are split between iOS and Android, with Blackberry and Windows a very distant third and fourth place. Most app development software packages are built to work just fine with the latest Android and iOS interfaces, so developing for those two will likely be the most rewarding as few people will be using Blackberries and Windows phones in 2018 (Windows Phone OS will be getting phased out soon).
While designing an app for your firm may have been too expensive and risky 4 or 5 years ago, designing your app now may be the best decision you made to reinforce your company brand, improve conversions and give your company the centre stage in the mobile world. Chetaru has the IT know-how that your firm needs to succeed and thrive, from beautiful responsive websites to economical SEO campaigns and useful mobile app designs.

Tech Trailblazers: The Forgotten Innovators

When we look at old computers from the early 80s through the lens of modern smartphones, it’s hard to recognise that these quaint machines were, at one point, the best you could get. While some of the more high-end computers had features we take for granted now, like a GUI (Graphical User Interface) or a heavy mouse, many low-end and mid-end computers instead used a Command Line Interface, which required a decent grasp of coding languages in order to get any use out of them.

Looking at these old machines, they seem centuries behind what we have now: speech recognition, touch typing, online connectivity, vastly improved technical specs and miniaturisation, even Virtual Reality is possible on today’s computers and phones. The bar for entry is a lot lower than it used to be: most computer users don’t know a line of code, since it isn’t normally required in daily use. However, the things we take for granted now took years, if not decades of trial-and-error research. One machine, in particular, could have changed the nascent computing and video game market, if it was ever released: the Halcyon.

The Halcyon was produced and designed by RDI Video Systems for the then-emerging video game console market in America. The Halcyon was unique compared to its competitors in a number of ways: while the then-popular NES (Nintendo Entertainment System) used ROM cartridges to store its media, the Halcyon used Laserdiscs, the LP-sized precursors to the CD format. The Halcyon was interacted with by talking to it through a headset, and the Halcyon would talk back to the user via a primitive speech synthesis system. For 1985, it looked like a step into the future of video games.

Too Awesome for the 80s

However, the Halcyon had to work with contemporary technology, and it shows. While Laserdiscs allowed the Halcyon to produce Full Motion Video segments for its games, Laserdiscs were expensive to produce and had limited storage space compared to tape cassettes, the more common storage medium for computer games in the 80s.

While previous games developed with Laserdiscs, such as the arcade hits Dragon’s Lair and Space Ace, were able to turn a profit for arcade owners due to its novelty and relative simplicity, Halcyon titles had to be packaged with multiple discs to meet their potential, drastically increasing the cost of distributing any games for the system. On top of that, the Halcyon was expensive to build – Laserdisc players were expensive even in their prime, driving the price up to a eye-watering $2500 USD (almost $5800 when adjusted for inflation): far too expensive for most middle-class families in America.

Perhaps due to the massive hurdles it faced, the Halcyon was never officially released, and only a dozen units were ever built. The ones that didn’t end up in museums or private collections sometimes appear on sites like eBay for a much lower price than the manufacturers intended.

Why did the Halcyon fail? Perhaps it was too ambitious for its era, too expensive for the market that video game console appealed to, perhaps it was too difficult to mass produce or make a profit from them. Even if it ever made it to the mass market, a stifling lack of third-party support would have still made it an unattractive purchase. However, we see the Halcyon in a lot of our current tech now: speech recognition and software assistants like Siri, Cortana  and Alexa are a basic feature in most consumer tech, and CDs and its successors (DVD, Blu-Ray) are now the standard means of physically distributing software.

Whether the Halcyon was a failed early start on this tech, an example for others to emulate and iterate, or a dead-end in tech design is hard to confirm. Either way, the Halcyon gave many people in the 80s a preview of the technical achievements we would make in a scant 20 years. Chetaru is a leading digital design agency based in Darlington, UK and Indore, India. We specialise in website design and helping you sustain your online presence via social media, SEO and mobile applications. Take a look at our current and previous and current clients here and see if Chetaru has the skill and technical brilliance you need.