Michael Laas talks with his team at LearnerNation at Pipeline, a shared work facility that caters to entrepreneurs like Michael. Laas and the team are an example of an "app economy" business that has already grown significantly in the way of revenues and customers. Michael McCord (right) listens as Laas tells the team about a successful meeting he just returned from. Photo by CHARLES TRAINOR JR / MIAMI HERALD STAFF
By Mike Seemuth
A Miami-based developer of online training programs called LearnerNation is improving its mobility while raising money to expand. The young company is easing access to its website with a smartphone, having decided against the alternative of creating a mobile app for a particular brand of handset, such as Apple’s iPhone or Google’s Android. “That could be extremely costly for a startup, and also you become more app-centric at that point,” said Michael Laas, co-founder and chief operating officer of LearnerNation. “Another way you can go is, we’re actually going to be designing our site to be browser-friendly for smartphones, so it doesn’t matter if you’re logging in from an iPhone or an Android phone.”
Welcome the rapidly changing app economy. While mobile apps are popular among consumers who own smartphones, many companies are achieving mobile connectivity through so-called cloud computing, or the use of software that resides on the Internet, not on a smartphone, tablet or laptop. These are the “two divergent paths when it comes to being used on mobile devices,” Laas said. "Are you based for the Web, or are you based for an app, for a smartphone?"
Both paths are providing unparalleled handheld access to information over the Internet, and the march toward nonstop connectivity has created unprecedented opportunities. The development of mobile apps, in particular, has become a dynamic force in the software sector of the economy. Building and distributing software for mobile phones has never been cheaper, so this slice of the software industry has attracted not only a swarm of inventive entrepreneurs but also a slew of advisors, financiers and technicians to help them. Big brand-name corporations are investing in mobile connectivity, too, along with social media exposure, transactional capabilities and other elements of their online presence.
By one measure, South Florida’s app economy appears to be growing faster than the overall economy.