Power Tool Apps and Mobile Websites Reviewed
Today you have access to thousands, or even tens of thousands, of mobile apps – especially on the iPhone and Android platforms, but what are some of our favorite tool companies doing with respect to smart phone application and mobile website development? We took a look to see which, if any, of these directions was being pursued by some of the larger names – and hadn’t yet factored that into their marketing strategy. If we’re aware of anything, it’s that building a mobile app or mobile website won’t do anything unless it’s marketed well and designed to serve a useful purpose. You can build a great app, but without marketing no one will find it. Conversely, you can market the heck out of a lame app or poorly designed mobile website and it won’t do much to help your traffic or interest in your tools.
Dremel just released a mobile version of their website, which we found this week and which prompted us to take a look into what manufacturers had done in terms of addressing this new demographic of consumers and professionals. Here’s what we found:
- Dremel: This company has taken a very sensible approach to its efforts, designing what might be the best mobile tool website out there. It perfectly caters to those using smart phones to browse for tool info. The website automatically recognized my iPhone and presented me with the mobile version of Dremel.com (m.dremel.com) which was well-organized and laid out in a simple manner. Not only did they redesign the start page, they followed the design all the way through to the product pages, where specs, overview, features and related links are all well-organized into easily-browsable sub-menus.
- Milwaukee Tools: This iPhone app is actually a bit weak on the impressive side. Really, it’s just a brochure-reader that allows you to download and view publications from the company. Included is a link to the 2010 catalog, but you can’t do much more than browse and click on a tool to go to the Milwaukee website page for that tool (not optimized for mobile). There’s also a “Buy Now” button to bring up a dealer locator. What the company really needs is a mobile website.
- Bosch: Bosch has mostly catered to its automotive roots, with paid GPS apps and a cool little app called ‘Light ‘Em Up Dyno’ that measures your vehicle’s 0-60 mph capability among other things… chalk one up to Bosch for figuring out what users want!
- Stanley Black and Decker (Bostitch): These guys don’t have a way to browse tools through a mobile app or website, but they do provide some cool tools for their users, like the Stanley Bostitch Level app. It’s a fun way to connect with their users and it does a good job of reinforcing the Stanley Bostitch brand. The app has been out for a while, and they haven’t bothered to update it to include the new Stanley Black and Decker name.
- Craftsman: The tool brand of Sears has done a bunch to address mobile users. First, the company has a fully-enabled mobile website, where you can search, sort, get info on, and purchase tools. Sears has also created a Sears2Go app that includes all of the company’s Craftsman tools. It allows easy purchasing of tools from the app and you can get tool info as well.
- Behr: This company’s ColorSmart mobile app is actually genius and allows consumers to color match colors to photos and generally visualize various color combinations and possibilities.
And as for the warehouse stores, both Lowe’s and Home Depot have mobile versions of their websites, with Home Depot also adding an iPhone app for good measure:
Companies who have sites that completely miss to address mobile versions of their sites or mobile apps are:
- DeWalt: Their website is actually really difficult to use with smart phones or any screen of a reduced size due to their use of dropdowns and the general “clutter” present on the site.
- Makita: Makita currently pays no attention to its mobile users. Of course, if they did it would likely be in the form of a motocross app, which makes up about 95% of all of their press and news releases.
- Hitachi: Nothing, not even for their electronics brand
- Black and Decker: No mobile apps or website
- Skil: No mobile apps or website
- Ridgid: No mobile apps or website
- Ryobi: No mobile apps or website
- RotoZip: No mobile apps or website
- Senco: No mobile apps or website
- Swanson Tools (Speed Square): No mobile apps or website
- Rockwell: No mobile apps or website
Mobile websites are cool, and in fact they may be more practical than a full-on app, but the dedicated app market is powerful and often allows a more direct functionality and user experience than online websites. In either case, it appears that many companies are figuring out how to reach these markets in a way that is practical and ergonomic, to say the least.
Did we miss anyone? Let us know in our comments!