Regardless of the naysayers, your tiny hat company has taken off. You’ve found customers near and far, and your Facebook Fan Page is followed by literally dozens of canine headpiece enthusiasts. The next step, clearly: You need a mobile app. The problem? You don’t know a thing about making mobile apps.
That’s where Cabana‘s new Facebook Fan Page Mobilizer comes in. With the push of a few buttons, it converts your Facebook Fan Page into a rather solid (albeit not native) mobile app for the always-welcome price of free.
Check out the demo video:
Too long, didn’t watch? Here’s the basic idea: You log into Facebook and add the Fanpage Mobilizer app to your account. You hop into the app, pick which “model” of Web app you want (there’s only one model right now, the most basic one. More on this later), and pick which of your pages you want converted. You can tweak the name, the startup splash image, and the app’s icon. If you’re willing to give the product a Facebook Like during the process, this basic model is free; otherwise, it’s a one-time fee of 5 bucks.
Once your app is ready to go, you’ll be sent a bit.ly link that serves as an installer. Whenever someone visits this link, they’ll be prompted to add the app to their home screen. I noted it above, but it’s worth noting again for the nit-pickers: These apps are Web apps, not native iOS apps. While that difference seems to mean less and less every week, there are two key points there: On the downside, they’re not quite as smooth as apps built specifically for the platform. On the upside, they’re cross platform and don’t require you to deal with all that App Store approval nonsense.
As mentioned above, Cabana’s got one model to choose for now: the basic one. It gives you a customizable splash/loading page, a news page that pulls from your feed, a photos screen with full album access, an events page, and an info page for your website/address/phone details. Down the road, they’ll expand with additional models. The “Community” model, for example, will allow fans to post/comment on your content through the app and will probably cost a few bucks more. After that, they’re looking to expand into verticals with things like menu support for restaurants.
Is it a complete alternative to building your own, native app from scratch? Of course not — but it’s a hell of a lot less work, and at $5/Free, a hell of a lot cheaper. It’s a solid solution for any small business owner (read: dog hat makers…or band, artist, whatever) who is looking to give their fans something a bit more tailored without a huge investment.