It’s been a week since Yousaf Shah spoke about the scrumptious potential for selling FileMaker Go solutions to the swelling population of iOS owning users. He was the first speaker at the FileMaker Business Alliance meeting held in London UK. Business oriented application development in the mobile device market is still in its infancy and with it’s unique capabilities Go has the potential to take a big chunk of that market. For example Go allows one to speedily build polished applications that mine corporate backend databases e.g. SQL.
So my mind’s been racing, thinking about my customers; and working out how I might be able to streamline their work with a solution built in Go. What’s going to work; and what won’t. This is my attempt to answer that question. I’d appreciate your thoughts.
1. Apps - We can’t compete with the convenience and low cost of AppStore apps. A purchaser of a Go application must first own Go which costs €32/£28. This barrier shifts the Go developer’s business model away from the mass market to higher value applications aim at business users.
2. Bento - A maximum of 2 iOS devices can be Synced with Bento. To do that the user must link via Wifi to the LAN; very fussy. So Bentos no threat to FileMaker Pro, it’s more like a giveaway sample handed out in front of a bakery. It will create a hunger for the fully-fledge FileMaker Go solution.
3. Legacy Applications - I hadn’t though of the stuff I build as a legacy solution, but that’s how Yousaf described it. Some are predicting the demise of desktops and laptops; for many users a tablet will be the only computing device they will need. No more FileMaker Pro for the desktop! I can’t break out of valuing a keyboard and mouse. Surely that’s what’s needed to rapidly enter lots of data accurately and effectively? If customer is on the phone dictating an order, are you going to want to faff with your virtual keyboard and pokey screen size? Some of my clients applications will always be more suited to FileMaker Pro vs Go.
In which portions of the mobile device market can Go compete effectively?
1. Organisations not consumers: Organisations that need to share data will have FileMaker Pro or SQL will sitting at the backend and the mobile devices will buzz around collecting and disseminating data. So don’t go try and emulate a consumer orientated app e.g. recipe database or tracking personal expenses. For consumer applications Go will be more fussy to install/update and way more expensive than the apps.
2. On-the-move only: A good proportion of my clients sit in offices all day. They have large screens and want to immerse themselves in the information the solutions serves-up. A more relevant target are Sales people, decisions makers and retail workers who are often away from their desks but still want access to the information stored in their offices. (Tip-Get a notepad and jot down which people at your existing clients is on the move. How can she be helped by accessing live data while she's away from her desk?)
3. Targeted Functions: A legacy FileMaker application running on a desktop computer may cover all the functions of a lettings agency: property listings, invoicing, legal agreements, contacts lists etc. The Go application needs to be crisps and focussed. Show only what’s needed to complete a task. So the lettings company may choose to only build two functions for Go: contact info and making an inventory of building’s contents prior to it being let out. Keep it simple.
4. Mobile Bolt-on: Businesses have build lots of reliable applications using SQL and other non-Filemaker programming environments. Their staff want access to this data on their mobile devices. These organisations can spend serious money to build an iPhone App in one of the C programming languages or they can harness the fully-fledge database and GUI features of Go.
5. Clinch the deal: I was speaking to a new prospect last night and educating him on the cost difference between off-the-shelf packages versus custom development. He mentioned that one of the deficiencies of the packaged systems he'd tried is their weak mobile features. I pounced explaining the potential of the FileMaker Pro & Go combination. He’s now going to consider the bigger investment of having me build a complete solution.
How are you going to grab the opportunity?
We’ve got a chance to appeal to a new market, I’d love to hear your suggestions on when Go is the right tool for the job. And there’s no point in claiming Go’s perfect in all situations, so share that too.