Sweb Apps, the company whose online service lets anyone create their own iPhone application - no coding required - is Sweb Apps 2.0, the next generation of the company's app builder product. Among a handful of new features, including a real-time WYSIWYG-style landing page builder and YouTube integration, is the ability to create an iPhone-based store where you can sell inventory within your app and take payments via PayPal.New from
Sweb Apps is an interesting company to watch because it's one of the first to democratize the iPhone app-building business by taking the complexity of coding out of the equation. With their service, anyone can create their own application in as little as five minutes. Of course, you aren't necessarily designing any masterpieces with this sort of click-to-build process, but it provides an easy - if a bit simplistic - way for small to medium-sized businesses to establish a presence in the iTunes App Store.
Real-Time View of App Creation
With the next generation of the product, Sweb Apps 2.0, some of the original concerns about the - well, let's say it - rather boring user interface of the Sweb-built apps have begun to be addressed. Whereas before you could only customize the background color and upload your own buttons, today you can customize the background to be an image instead. And if you don't have one of your own, Sweb Apps provides an online library of images to choose from. That's a step in the right direction, even if some of the backgrounds are reminiscent of early GeoCities Web pages or Windows 98 wallpapers... after all, you have to crawl before you can run.
As you build your app's landing page, you're provided with a real-time view of your app in progress, which makes it much easier to tell whether your images, buttons and colors look good together or not. That's a handy feature for SMB owners, who may be creating their app on their own without the aid of a professional designer. The app builder also uses drag-and-drop functionality to make the process even more painless for the inexperienced end user.
However, one of the most interesting developments in the 2.0 version of Sweb Apps' online service is the new "store" functionality. Now, as easy as it is to build an app, you can essentially build a mobile storefront for your business. This feature, still in beta, allows you to categorize, sub-categorize, itemize and write descriptions for your products. You can manage and maintain your inventory through Sweb's CMS, and your mobile customers can "check out" via the included PayPal integration.
Sweb Apps tells us that they envision this sort of feature being used by restaurants, boutiques and small retailers. That's easy to imagine. For example: wish you had picked up a t-shirt from that seafood place where you dined on vacation? In theory, you could now, even if you were halfway home, thanks to these new mobile storefronts. In a way, the mobile stores are even better than having the same functionality via an online store on the "real" Web, mainly because not everyone brings their laptop around with them 24/7. But their iPhones? People don't leave home without them.
Other features being introduced today include podcasts, audio streams and YouTube integration, all of which streams audio or video within the app itself, as opposed to launching an external program such as the iPhone's own built-in YouTube app. Also new is the ability for users to manage multiple applications from one account.
Sweb Apps says they've seen good results since their August 2009 launch, with a 400% increase in sales, but won't share actual numbers. That doesn't really tell us much about the service's adoption by the SMB market. Since the company isn't touting any high-profile clients or case studies in their PR though, we have to imagine that they're flying a bit under the radar on the business front at this point. Still, it's very early in the game, and services like this can take a while to catch on and gain popularity.
The pricing for Sweb Apps remains the same despite the new features. The company offers four-, six- and eight-button packages, which all include a one-time set-up fee of $50 per button. Then there is a $25 monthly hosting fee applied to every application going forward.