Bucking trend, Dremel picks Web over mobile apps

iPhone and Android apps are all the rage, but the rotary toolmaker opted for something that would reach many more devices. Also: promotional QR codes.

Dremel's mobile Web site
Dremel's mobile Web site Dremel

Mobile app or mobile Web site?

That's the decision that Dremel and countless companies face today when trying to reach the burgeoning number of customers with smartphones. Many choose to build an app, but Dremel, maker of multipurpose high-speed rotary tools popular among hobbyists and electrical engineers, decided on a mobile Web instead.

The company was planning a mobile sales and marketing push, but building an iOS or Android app would have "limit[ed] the reach of this initiative to one or two mobile platforms," said Henry Schwenk of Triton-Tek, a mobile development company Dremel hired.

Web apps often lag what native apps can do, browser makers' labors notwithstanding, but Dremel's needs were reasonably well-adapted to a mobile Web site. The online product catalog features pages with sections that can be expanded for more detail and links to online videos.

Another part of the campaign extends to the physical world. Dremel promotional materials such as ads and in-store displays feature QR codes, the two-dimensional equivalent to barcodes. Camera-equipped mobile phones can scan the QR code, which steers the browser to the Dremel page.

QR codes are all the rage in marketing circles, appearing on Pepsi and wine bottles and Google QR code stickers for businesses' windows.

Dremel is using QR codes--the black-and-white checkered area to the lower right of this promotional material--to try to get mobile phone users to explore its product line.
Dremel is using QR codes--the black-and-white checkered area to the lower right of this promotional material--to try to get mobile phone users to explore its product line. Dremel
 

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