Our answer to this question is that we have Fuelly Mobile, a web application optimized for phones. It works on iPhones, Androids, Blackberrys, Nokias, Palms, and just about any other handheld device that can access the Web. So we develop Fuelly Mobile once and we can support all of these devices.
It's still something we think about quite a bit. Let me give you a little background about Fuelly and how apps are built.
Side Note: We could offer an API and let 3rd party folks build apps, but we want more control over people's experience with Fuelly than that offers. People build fantastic 3rd party apps every day, and people build not-so-great 3rd party apps every day. We don't want people to start out with a not-so-great Fuelly experience.
So with this in mind, the question we ask ourselves: Would a native iPhone or Android app make adding a fuel-up easier? I think the answer is yes, slightly. A native app would load slightly faster and be available when there's no network. So the next question we ask ourselves: Is the increase in efficiency worth the development expense? This is the tougher question to answer. We haven't been able to say yes to this.
It's not quite as simple as answering this question. Obviously apps are the hot thing in technology at the moment. People want to discuss apps. So a native Fuelly app would make it easier for people to share with others because that's what people want to talk about. It would put Fuelly in app stores which people are currently exploring and excited about. So there's a marketing aspect. That leads to another question: Would a native app make Fuelly more popular? Our mission is to get as many people tracking their fuel economy as possible and native apps might help move us toward that goal. Is the expensive development cost worth it if we're doing it primarily for marketing? That's not as easy to answer as the efficiency question.
It's not just small projects like Fuelly struggling with this question. These are important questions for many companies right now. Web legend Tim Bray recently wrote a post that summed up this problem: “Web” vs. “Native” where he looks at a few companies that offer both.
So the short answer is: we don't have any native apps for the iPhone or Android planned at the moment. We are thinking about it.