Swedish furniture retailer IKEA has just released an iPhone app which showcases its 2010 catalogue to mobile users. 

The IKEA app provides a more environmentally friendly alternative to the paper version, but how well does it work on an iPhone?

The app provides every single page of IKEA’s new catalogue in iPhone app form, all 376 pages of it.

Providing the entire catalogue means that this is a large app, at 35MB. This means that it can only be downloaded (like any app over 10MB in size) over a wi-fi connection.

This could mean that casual users looking for apps when they are out and about may be deterred from downloading the app, which is perhaps a bad idea. If IKEA is looking to promote its new range, surely it wants to attract as many downloads as possible,

I found the app a little disappointing, as all it has done is to put the catalogue onto an app, without doing much work to make it work on an iPhone. Users can scroll left or right between pages, or enter a specific page number to jump straight to it.

There is no interactivity on the app; while you can see products priced on photos, you cannot select them to see more details, and you cannot search the catalogue by keyword to jump straight to the product category you want.

Also, there is simply too much going on in the photos for it to come across well on a small mobile screen, it is asking users to do a hell of a lot of work.

In the picture below for instance, you might want to zoom in to see the leather sofa close up, then you will need to zoom back out, scroll back across the screen, and zoom in to see the product details on the right hand side.

It would actually be much easier to search through the desktop version of IKEA’s website on the iPhone’s browser, at least there you can search by category and find product information more quickly.

Also, assuming that a number of potential customers download and use the app, IKEA has missed the opportunity to do more to sell the products by not providing a store locator tool, a phone number, or even just the option to bookmark or email product details for later use.

If IKEA wants to market itself and drive sales through this app, it needs to cut down the size of the app, make products easier to see, and introduce some interactivity for users.

At the moment, it has produced an app which is more difficult to read then the paper catalogue, and which has none of the benefits (making it searchable, saving wishlists, click to call etc) that having a mobile version could provide.