It’s been on the fringe of my awareness for a while now, but in the 1.5 release Magento for Mobile seems to have suddenly become much more accessible and much more noticeable. With that in mind, I decided to write today’s post on mobile web design at The Small Screen on whether or not the Magento Mobile App can justify it’s costs.

It comes with some great features, including:

  • Intergrated with PayPal Mobile Checkout
  • Real-time product catalog integration
  • Product image resizing based on device
  • Manage multiple mobile stores from one admin panel
  • New account registration for mobile customers
  • Integrated with Flurry Analytics to track users (iPhone only)

All this is great and all… but there’s just one, major, pitfall… The price tag! If you want your Magento store to be available to both iPhone (/iPod Touch), iPad and Android users, you’re looking at just over $2000 annually. That’s not including the one-off set up fee of $799 for each OS.

This, to me, is just too much. It makes Magento Mobile unachievable for many businesses. It seems to me it would make much more sense to have a great, easy to use mobile theme.

There’s also statistics to take into account – in January, Mashable reported on why mobile shopping could be as big as online shopping (a great read and one I’d recommend by the way) – m-commerce looks promising because in their survey, 30% of users used their phones to look up products, compare prices or find store locations etc – up from 11% the year before. 11% this year made purchases using their phones  up from 2% the year before.

This is fantastic growth, really it is. But does it justify the costs for buying into the mobile app? You also have to consider another statistic – 95% of apps aren’t used 3 weeks after they’re downloaded. Will a small-medium business gain any profit from the app? I doubt it, without a marketing campaign running alongside it…