ITEX: TradeMe head dev talks mobile

Simon Young tells New Zealand businesses how to tackle the rise of the smartphone

Companies in New Zealand are looking to leverage the rise of smartphone adoption among consumers, but with so many platforms and development paths available to them, how should they approach this, if at all?

"It's all about the context", says Simon Young, head of development at TradeMe, who was talking about the company's experiences with mobile development, at ITEX 2011.

"Does your business' core competency gain benefit from having a mobile presence?"

Young told the ITEX audience that the TradeMe iPhone app, which launched a year ago, was a natural evolution for the online auction company.

"If any of you are currently involved in a TradeMe auction right now, chances are that you'll get a push notification or email sent to your phone telling you that you've been outbid or that you've won.

"You're at a conference and it's really important for us to get you that message whereever you are."

At the time the app launched, 1.8 percent of visits to Trade Me were on mobile devices, this has grown 3.4 times to 6.2 percent in a year.

Young says they now have 200,000 registered mobile devices using Trade Me.

"We expect that by this time next year 20-25 percent of visits to Trade Me will be on mobile devices," says Young.

When deciding to develop the iPhone app first, Young says they used internal usage data which showed 96 percent of their mobile users were on iOS devices, instead of global market data which shows that the majority of smartphones are Android devices.

Asked if he thought developing HTML5 applications was a good alternative to native applications, Young said he personally preferred native apps because of their 'polish', but could see the benefit in being able to deploy releases at will, and not having to go through Apple's notorious approval process.

"We've got a pretty good relationship with Apple, but we've heard some shocking horror stories about apps taking months to get approved, and sometimes not at all."

TradeMe have six staff in its mobile development team, two working on HTML5 web applications and four working on native applications.

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