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I'm creating a mobile application for a company that provides the software for car rental companies. The app will enable a user to book a car rental.

This is where it gets tricky...

There needs to be only ONE application for the software company to distribute to its clients (the car rental companies). The software company has 50+ clients, creating an app for each would be tiresome.

Although there will only be ONE app, the user will have to associate the app with the car company that marketed the app to them.

Initially, I thought we could simply use GPS to associate a user to a company, but some of these companies are in close vicinity of each other. We cannot present a pre-populated list of companies to the user because this would defeat the "branding" purpose of the app. This app is not meant to broker car rentals, but rather be used as a booking/branding tool for the individual companies.

So far we have come up with two solutions, but we are certainly open to a better one...

  1. Upon initial launch of the app, the car rental companies' customers are given an installation key which is inputted by the user. It will associate the app to a specific company.

  2. Upon initial launch of the app, the user is asked to input the name of the car rental company they would like to use the app for. They cannot choose from a list, but we can possibly incorporate smart suggestions as they input the name.

I don't think either of these options presents an ideal user experience. Any suggestions/feedback are greatly appreciated.

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Hi @mnort9, I reworded your title to turn it into a question. Does this adequately describe your situation? Feel free to revert if not. –  dhmholley Aug 24 '12 at 11:16
    
Looks good to me. –  mnort9 Aug 24 '12 at 15:09

3 Answers 3

Create an app builder. Usually these are HTML5-based, but some of them are completely native. Then, with the app builder you create a separate, slightly customized app for each of the companies, which get accepted to the respective market / appstore separately. GOogle for app builder to see some examples.

You can even automate the process if all it changes is a GPS coordinate and some branding colors / images, then you can generate all 50 apos at once.

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+1 Automation is going to be key, no way you want to create 50+ variations by hand. –  Bevan Aug 24 '12 at 8:46
    
Are you suggesting using one of the app builders already out there or literally creating our own? I like the idea, but it may be too complex for my skill level. –  mnort9 Aug 29 '12 at 16:27
    
I don't know any of these - there are just so many out there, and I never had to use any of them. From an architecture perspective, an appbuilder is the solution, but wether you find one which fits your needs, or you have to create one... that's a different question. There is instappbuilder from attrecto and they also deal with custom appbuilder development, yet If you have to create one, use titanium (or phonegap), that seems to be the easiest to talk the system into making an app builder. –  Aadaam Aug 29 '12 at 16:59
    
I think rather than creating a full featured app builder, I can create a web app where the clients input their logo, company name, unique data, etc. The web app will modify a template xcode project and submit to app store, if possible. I'll have to do some research on this... –  mnort9 Aug 29 '12 at 18:08

If this is a web app, I would simply recommend custom subdomains.

If it is native, then creating 50 iterations seems to me like the optimal for UX. Tiresome for you, yes, but certainly the best for the user.

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Will Apple accept 50 iterations of the same app with a simple logo and name change? –  mnort9 Aug 29 '12 at 16:29
    
The OP mentions that there needs to be only one application though, so this suggestion won't really work. Also, your webapp route - how would the user choose which subdomain they need to access? –  JonW Sep 21 '12 at 23:31

I'd go with Aadaam's idea. But if you have to choose between those two options you mentioned, then I'd prefer the first one.

You are going to ask the user to do something extra apart from installing the app. Giving them the option to input any company name leaves the door open for them to choose a different one (what if I want to see what other companies offer? If I want to compare and believe I will have the chance go back and forth until I find a 'cheap one', for example? Or what if I, by chance, can't remember the name of the company I want to hire?). An installation key is not ideal, but at least it creates a sort of 'customisation' feeling, like the user is getting something unique, a personalised output.

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