Smartphones and tablets have become mainstream (28% owns one) and generally the way people want to use their device (next to gaming (52%), social media (26%) and entertainment (6%) which makes 80% of the use) shifts from browsing to using a dedicated (branded) app.
As an app developer you could start from scratch building an app for iOS, Android, Blackberry and Windows mobile or start (free) by using one of the universal online Mobile app development environments:
- Mobile.conduit.com (free untill 500 installs, no sale, Pricing)
- BuildanApp.com (starting from €19, Pricing)
- AppMakr.com (starting Free, or $79/month: Pricing)
- Many Many (50+) other tools available see: http://www.readwriteweb.com/mobile/2010/12/30-plus-tools-for-building-your-own-mobile-app.php
Most commercial (paid) programs have a fee between $30 and $80/month , which might be too much for a starting app developer. If you are a programmer yourself you might want to checkout the RhoMobile suite and Appcelerator Titanium which can be used starting from free. The development of these universal mobile app development suites goes very fast, and I wouldn’t be surprised if better software is available already which might be sold through resellers through their networks.
Just make sure you can own and control your app (like unwanted in-app ads from 3rd party businesses) and look at the monthly + life-time costs. You probably need to recompile your app after each iOS / Android software update for compatibility.
In almost all cases you need to pay $99/yr for iOS developer (and you need a Mac) + $25 registration fee for Google Play (to publish in the Android app store) although you can develop and use the Android apps without registration.
Please let me know if you have found any good app development resources & comparison sites.