As of March 2017, there were over 2.8 million Android apps and more than 2.2 million apps in Apple’s App Store, with an additional 669,000 in the Windows App Store, 600,000 in the Amazon AppStore and a little over 230,000 in BlackBerry World.
Additionally, the typical person spent five hours per day on their mobile device, launching an average of 9 apps per day or 30 per month. That’s about one-third of the approximately 90 apps the average user has on their phone.
With figures like these, it’s no surprise that many companies feel pressure to launch a mobile app—even if it’s not within their budget. This has prompted many to turn to white label app development, which has become more popular in recent years as more companies recognize the necessity of having an app. White label applications are also favored because they’re affordable and can be implemented in just a few days.
But, as the old adage holds, you get what you pay for—and in this case, it’s usually not much. In fact, while white label mobile apps may seem like a good option, they fall short in several key areas. So what are white labeled apps and how do they compare to custom-built mobile applications?
What Are White Label Mobile Apps?
White label mobile apps refer to generic application frameworks that can be customized with your company name, logo and product or service information. You may have limited control or no control over the app’s features, functions, layout, design and other elements. Mobile apps in this category are usually basic; you’re not going to get an innovative, cutting-edge interface with a highly-refined user interface (UI).
A large percentage of white labeled mobile apps are hybrid, meaning they can be used on multiple operating systems. But, because these apps are not meant to be particularly innovative, they often lack the native plugins that are required to make a hybrid app shine. Most white label applications are simple and more straightforward anyway, so the impact to the app’s usefulness may be minimal.
Customization is where many white label app developers “get you,” as they’ll charge exorbitant fees to customize the application. Plus, you’ll never truly own a white label app. The source code remains with the developer, putting you in a vulnerable position. If the developer were to drop off the face of the earth or triple the monthly fee, you would have no real recourse. You would also lose all the time you invested in curating the app’s content. This is an especially important consideration for those seeking an ecommerce app, as inputting an entire shop’s worth of products requires a significant time investment.
The fee for white label apps varies depending on the precise type of app. A large portion of white label apps are aimed at the e-commerce niche, and in these cases, it’s typical for the app developer to charge a monthly fee in addition to taking a percentage of your sales profits. In the case of a company dealing primarily in services, you may simply pay a monthly fee to keep the app up and running.
You should also expect to pay a sizable up-front fee for the “initial setup”—a fee that can be perplexing since most white label developers require the client to configure and setup the app themselves. Using a client portal, you essentially fill in the blanks by inputting your company logo, text and products. Some may also let you choose “skins,” layouts and color pallets from pre-made options.
How Do White Label Apps Compare to Custom-Made Mobile Apps?
When comparing apps, there is a world of difference between a white label mobile app and a custom mobile application that is developed from the ground-up with your precise specifications in mind. With white label app development, you’re limited to the features and functionalities the developer offers. Some developers create a “module” system where you can choose the modules you need to include in your app. It’s also common that some of the most useful modules or features are “premium” and thus associated with a higher monthly fee.
But in the case of a white label interface, you’re limited to UI updates performed on the developer’s timeframe that deliver the greatest benefit to the largest number of users across all of the developer’s clients. Your users may find these updates beneficial, but they may skip over many of your customers’ pain points.. At best, most white label applications have a UI that’s usable but less-than-ideal. At worst, you may find the interface is clunky and hard to use.
What’s more, some of these apps don’t meet the guidelines for inclusion in the app stores. This means you’ll be limited in terms of potential distribution channels, so establishing a user base can be challenging.
In short, if you need only the most basic app features and don’t have the money to invest in custom mobile app development, then a white label mobile app may be better than having nothing at all. Still, some white label products are so poorly developed and deliver such an unrefined UX that you may be better served by investing your money in a highly-optimized mobile website.
If you’re seeking a high-quality app that’s a true asset to your business, then a custom mobile app is the way to go. A well-designed app can generate an ROI that far exceeds development costs. For companies on a budget, consider working with a developer who can build the app in phases. At 7T, we’ve created an open source app platform called STAX, which features front-end and back-end interface components. This platform allows us to cut development costs by upwards of 35 to 40 percent, in many cases.
7T is an app development company serving clients throughout Dallas, along with the Houston area, Austin and other regions of the U.S. Our developers create highly customized mobile apps for clients in many different industries and niches, including manufacturing, healthcare, social media, retail and companies in Houston’s energy corridor. Contact us today to learn more about how a custom app development team can help your business generate revenue.