I'm here at TechCrunch Disrupt checking out the startups and have stumbled upon a few interesting companies. Bizness Apps has been around for a short while (they didn't launch here, as some companies have) that aims to provide a simple, web-based app building system for small businesses. It's not exactly a template system; Bizness Apps provides a series of functional components which you can plug in to an app and deploy using HTML5, or put on the App Store or Android Market.
I was pretty skeptical about Bizness Apps, as it harkened to the days of website templates, when anyone could charge a law firm thousands of dollars to do about 30 minutes of data entry and blorp out a website. Bizness Apps, on the other hand, works much better if you have design skills and can put together something attractive. Better yet, if you happen to be heavy on design and light on code, Bizness Apps offers a white label solution so you can essentially resell their product to clients. Or, if your restaurant was dumb enough to pay someone to build you an all-Flash site that can't be accessed by the majority of smartphones out there, Bizness Apps can fix that quickly (but doesn't "port" your Flash site).
There are, in fact, templates at work here, but they are only a starting point. Bizness Apps knows its market and has created templates for small businesses who typically need a simple feature set: restaurants, bars/clubs, law firms, realtors, gyms and radio stations (plus a longer list inside the web tool).
Of course, you can take those and morph them. The features you will add will vary, but the list of what's available is impressive and useful, and includes things like push notifications, GPS coupons, counters, galleries and CRM tools. Plus, they are adding e-commerce solutions from Volusion, Magento and Shopify. If you're looking to add purchases to your app, these are pretty good solutions. That said, this feature list is far from comprehensive.
How much does all this cost? To get started, it's $39 a month for an iPhone app. If you want to make that app for Android, iPad or in HTML5, you're looking at an additional $10 per month for each deployment target. So, if you're a restaurant wanting to deploy to iPhone, iPad, Android and HTML5 you're looking at $69 per month. Not bad, but the value should be weighed against how much it would cost to build a HTML5 site to begin with and deploying it using a basic web host.
Yes, there's something to be said about having a native app, but is it worth the additional cost to your business to have this app? The advantage of Bizness Apps is the ease-of-use and targeted features. Still, I spoke to a developer who initially lost business to them only to have some clients come back when they discovered they wanted more custom features. Luckily you can try Bizness Apps for free and see if it's right for your business.