This has recently been a topic that I have been discussing with a lot of different people. In general, people tend to disagree with me until we talk it out. Their argument is that the performance and the functionality available on each device is superior to what you can create with a web application. They are right on this front, but are still wrong in choosing to develop device-specific solutions first.
Here is why you MUST develop your mobile application as a web-based solution prior to considering device-specific alternatives.
- In the past, you could count on the majority of your mobile users (generally the sales team) to be utilizing Blackberry phones only. While there are incompatibilities between versions, for the most-part a Blackberry application for a lower version will work for higher versions(again, for the most part). However, if you look at a recent article from Fast Company you will see that times have changed. The data is for the United State only and will vary elsewhere. However, take a look at the numbers:
- Nearly 50% of the users have iPhones with the remaining 50% fragmented between versions of the Blackberry, Palm, Samsung, etc.. I agree that many Enterprises reflect differing percentages, but the iPhone is gaining market share, you cannot count on selling mobile solutions that only target the Blackberry.
- The data is also clear about the fact that Palm and Windows Mobile solutions are losing market share. They are good platforms but users are choosing other devices.
- It is much easier to up-sell customers with web-based applications. You do not have to convince them to go back to your web site, buy, and download. They already go to your site to use the application and there is nothing to download. If they buy a new feature, it’s there, no hassle.
There are countless other benefits as well, ranging from control over sensitive data to detailed logging that you can use to determine which features are being used, and which are not, so that you can determine where you should continue investing your resources.
Now, I know I’ve convinced you, so now what? You will probably reach a point where you want to extend your application’s capabilities and need to deliver a device-specific solution. You need to carefully consider your current user base, of course, but be careful not to overlook where they are going. I’m currently using a Motorola Q with Windows Mobile. I love it and it solves all of my problems. When my contract comes up later this year, logic would dictate that I would either remain with the current phone or purchase a new Windows Mobile device. It works, I like it. Guess what, I’m going to buy an iPhone and I know I’m not alone.
Have I convinced you? Do you see other benefits of building a web-based mobile solution first? Do you have reasons why you should build a device-specific solution first?
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