BHW Group Blog

Austin Mobile Apps That You Wish Existed...But Don't

Today it’s easy to assume there is a mobile app or website for anything you need. Businesses are compelled to represent their brand, products, and services in the mobile space in order to keep up with competition, maintain market share, and attract new customers. Increasingly there are stiff penalties for ignoring your mobile presence with your customers and prospects. One of our clients recently asked us to refresh their legacy website after analysis from Google Analytics showed revenue was down $50,000 per month due to their website’s poor mobile conversion rate. Customers could find products and services through organic search, but our client’s legacy website was not optimized for mobile, so their customers were unable to navigate the site properly to convert into sales. Stories like these are becoming more common.

In 2013 a paradigm shift occurred for companies and their mobile strategy. For the first time ever mobile devices surpassed desktop PCs in total internet usage in the United States. If you haven’t optimized for mobile, this is troubling news, but there’s even more urgency than you might imagine. In 2013 Desktop PCs had their worst sales decline in history. Further, CNN, Pew, and other researchers now show that in Q1 2014, internet usage by mobile apps alone surpassed desktop PC usage in the US. This is a staggering find, mobile apps by themselves account for more internet traffic than all of the desktop PCs in the United States. Mobile apps now represent 86% of mobile internet traffic, and when you include mobile web browsing, mobile represents 55% of all internet traffic.

The App Store has been very successful popularizing the expression, “There’s an app for that.” Having lived in Austin over 20 years I can tell you that there are plenty of gaps when it comes to our city. I often find myself wishing for an app to make my life in Austin easier. We asked around to family and friends of BHW and came up with a top five list of mobile apps we wished we had. Here’s our top five list of Austin mobile apps we wish existed, but don’t…

1. Franklin BBQ

Austin App Idea - Franklin's

Austin’s biggest name in BBQ is Franklin’s. After countless awards, accolades, press and TV appearances everyone knows Franklin’s. No other restaurant in town has their name, and no other restaurant has their line! Franklin’s line is so famous that it has its own twitter account @FranklinBBQline. Franklin’s started posting pictures each morning showing how long their line is for lunch. The pictures, witty messages, and, social media outreach are a powerful example of a great social media strategy.

Franklin’s has done more than most to engage their mobile audience, but our topic is mobile apps we wish existed. What if we took Franklin’s line and applied some predictive business intelligence to anticipate demand, created a process to monitor line length in real-time, and coupled that with Google maps? How about a mobile app that can tell you the expected wait time for lunch and even factors in your drive time to get there? What if we went one step further and could sign up for mobile push notifications if the line were ever uncharacteristically short?

Franklin’s is in the enviable position of selling out their products everyday, but what if they had seasonal specials like whole Turkeys for Thanksgiving or Christmas? Push notifications of seasonal specials would allow Franklin’s to advertise effectively to a ravenous customer base. Research shows that push notifications are five times more likely to be read than mass email and can have higher than a 60% click through rate. If you want to reach your customers, push notifications are one of the best tools for the job.

2. Downtown Parking

Austin App idea - parking
photo by Deborah Canon,

Let’s solve a frustrating problem that everyone in Austin experiences. With Austin’s incredible growth comes traffic, construction, and parking problems. If you park downtown you know that the options have dwindled and new garages can’t be built fast enough. There are a few mobile apps out there that try to help with parking, but most concentrate on listing surface lots or garages. In 2012 the city signed a deal to share its smart meter data with a mobile app company, but this deal hasn’t produced any results so far. The new trend on parking apps seems to be pre-selling spots from affiliated lots and garages at a premium for the convenience.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could share the city’s smart meter data in real-time to a mobile app? Imagine driving down the street with geolocation pinpointing nearby spots that are open or will expire soon. What if we went a step further and used business intelligence to show our users historical trends for when spots start to fill during the day? This information would allow users to better plan when to travel or arrive at a destination. What if we shared the length of time people are spend looking for spots in real-time? Users sharing real-time data about current conditions is an exciting concept, and features like this build strong communities, foster mobile app engagement, and create extremely valuable social media connections with your users. Consider applications like Waze which crowd-sources current road conditions from drivers. Waze entered late into a crowded GPS market full of apps from established vendors like Garmin and TomTom, but Waze was unique with a crowd-sourced data vision which became extremely popular. Ultimately others took note but not before Waze was purchased by Google for $996 million dollars in 2013.

The possibilities are endless. Imagine integrating to the city’s smart meter system in real-time so that you could receive push notifications of spots nearby and reminders on your spot’s expiration. What if we integrated with online payments to allow users to extend the time on their spot from their phone, without visiting the meter again? I wish there was “an app for that.”


Join us next in our next segment as we share our final three mobile apps we wish existed, but don’t…

Do you need an expert in mobile app development? With a team of mobile app development specialists covering a wide range of skill sets and backgrounds, The BHW Group is prepared to help your company make the transformations needed to remain competitive in today’s high-tech marketplace.

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Brett is a customer-focused executive who works closely with his team members and often takes a hands-on role in project execution. He blends strong business skills with deep technology expertise, allowing him to bridge the often insurmountable gap between business and IT. By mastering both domains, Brett can quickly conceive and operationalize new solutions that are technically elegant and commercially successful.