San Francisco based Innovation & Mobile Consultant.
Making the connection between business and tech as solid as possible.
I have been involved in mobile since it started.
Sorry, no answer without more details.
However, some food for thought:
1) cost efficient depends where you revenue comes from.
2) exposure ≠ downloads
3) depends on product & demographic.
all the big ASO and mobile marketing tools companies have blogs such as Fiksu, TapSense, Apptamin etc.
Why wouldn't you start your own?
If you should focus on only one thing, it is not your startup (you need partners/co-founders).
You can allow yourself to focus on one thing only if you properly delegate other aspects... and if you do this, you should already know what to focus on.
Once you're good they usually come to you...
You might want to try reaching out to existing business in your area but it depends on what you have experience building.
If you have free-time, you might also want to consider creating a skinnable template to be sold to multiple businesses.
Hate to answer a question with a question but...
How do you identify a gap if you don't have industry knowledge?
There is no sure-fire way. As long as you look for these "shortcuts" or "safe" options you will not succeed.
However, I'd advise tapping into the niche where the targets hangs out:
1) sheltered from mass traffic
2) odds are user knows what you're trying to do (first versions are never perfect)
3) they're willing to pay more than others down the line.
Definitely go with PhoneGap. You mention nothing that would make me suggest going full native so considering your lack of experience (and assume no desire to spend extra $$$), just go with PhoneGap: fast, solid & free.
I wish there were an easy system to provide download attribution.
In italy you have a saying along the lines of: "Doctors usually suffer from what they cure"... meaning they're too busy being good and helping others do that one thing that they don't do it for themselves.
I see the same for myself: I have 50+ apps in the App Store but unfortunately none of them are at levels I help my clients reach. Greatness requires time & effort, which we have a limited amount of.
In short, just because they haven't implemented what they preach doesn't mean they're frauds. However, always remember to make your own choices.
When the waiter asks if they want dessert, he should also drop a card with URL/qr code to the app.
Depending on your flow, it will point to your landing page or directly to testflight (where they register to download the beta, you get their email also from here).
They key is to have real early adopters.
With this system, you:
- make it easy to discover the app
- give them a chatting/funny topic (will remember experience)
- have "true" adopters since they are at that restaurant
...might also suggest to snap a picture with a restaurant mascot for the picture they share related to their dining experience.
Definitely go with PhoneGap.
These have been around for decades and you can find all sorts of tutorials, sample code, discussion, and frameworks.