Social media may have been the hot strategy “item” over the past year or two, but it will pale in importance to how businesses implement mobile strategies – i.e. building an app for customers, mobile advertising and accepting mobile payments using devices such Square. However, the fragmentation of the mobile app marketplace is creating confusion amongst companies and consumers.

Think about it. Off the top of your head, how many app stores do you think you have access to? If you are a gadget geek like me, chances are you have admittance to at least three app stores.

Looking primarily at technology platforms, I counted more than 20 different app stores – 11 of which are within the mobile realm (Check out an interactive look at the app landscape). Beyond mobile devices, there are app stores on Internet-connected TVs, video game consoles and streaming media boxes and based on this year’s CES, app stores could be coming to home appliances. Apps on your fridge anyone? Even though companies will not have to build something for every platform, deciding where to start can be a daunting task.

Therein lies the big question – how do you effectively navigate the increasingly complex world of applications?  

Until the mobile industry finds a way to defragment the app marketplace, there are some things you can keep in mind to help direct a  a mobile strategy:

  • Audience: What is the dominant platform amongst your target audience? For example, BlackBerry is still the go-to device for many business professionals
  • K.I.S.S.: The Keep It Simple, Stupid approach is very much in effect here. The best apps serve one distinct purpose perfectly
  • Usability: Make it work and make it work fast.  If there is an issue, make sure you have strong customer support in place.
  • Discoverability: With millions of apps available across all platforms, the above mentioned points are crucial in helping people discover an app.

While carriers, OEMs and others continue to work on multiple app stores, now is the time to review, or build, your company’s mobile strategy. As more people continue to turn to their smartphones for information and/or guidance, the window to get ahead of the crowd is rapidly closing.

No matter how you look at it, the mobilized world still has some new frontiers to conquer and apps will lead the exploration.

—Matt Wolpin