Once upon a time, building websites required programming skills. Now, an array of user-friendly content management systems and services allows SMBs to create sites with a few points and clicks. Could mobile app development become just as easy? A startup named Appy Pie thinks so, and it's using the cloud to drive its vision.

According to Appy Pie, its what-you-see-is-what-you-get (WYSIWYG) platform for app development, which went live last week, "allows anyone with no technical knowledge to create basic applications for mobiles and smartphones. Nothing to download or install, no programming required, just drag and drop," according to the company. It supports all of the major mobile platforms—iPhone/iPad, Android, Blackberry and Windows—and focuses on a range of broad app categories, such as weather, social networking and health care.

Appy Pie also runs in the cloud, making it easy to build apps from any device. It follows a philosophy that echoes the model pioneered by CMS platforms like WordPress, which allow anyone to create digital content without programming skills and using only a Web browser.

While Appy Pie is available for everyone, the company is pitching its product to SMBs in particular. According to an email, the platform caters to the needs of businesses that ask themselves, "How much will creating a mobile app cost and what do I really need to know to build one myself?"

There's a lot to be said for that strategy. Today, even for small businesses, having only a website and social-media presence is sometimes not enough. Apps provide another important avenue for connecting with customers. And since mobile app development traditionally requires significant investment either of time to learn to program apps, or of money to pay professionals to do it, platforms like Appy Pie that help small businesses build apps themselves quickly stand to become a key resource within the channel.

On the other hand, there's only so much that even a well-designed cloud-based app development platform can do. SMBs that need complex functionality or sophistication may not find their needs met. (They might also be put off by the appearance of Appy Pie's own website, which could stand a touch-up by someone with a good command of proper written English to correct all the randomly capitalized words, as well as sentences such as, "The only requirement for creating an app is to sign up for free and input his information.")

Still, the bigger picture suggests that what Appy Pie is doing will become increasingly important as the digital needs of SMBs, not to mention individuals, continue to grow.