Parthenon Software Group

Mobile Apps Strategy

Think of as many mobile apps as you can. Now take that number and multiply it by... well, you get the point. There are so many apps on the market these days, it can be intimidating. But is it really any wonder given the ever increasing popularity of mobile devices? Different mobile platforms also come along with the various devices in existence today. This can pose a challenge. Consider that there are multiple types of apps that enable different capability and functionality depending on the platform they encounter. Think native and hybrid apps.

One way to approach the functionality of an app is to do so on a platform by platform basis. This is the basis of native apps. Specific languages are used for each platform when developed on their own and native apps follow suit. Thus, a iOS app will not work on an Android device, unless a separate Android version of the app is developed. And vice versa. It might seem counterproductive to have to write multiple versions of the same app, but there are some benefits. For instance, once downloaded and installed, mobile apps "live" on a device and can access features like the camera, accelerometer, GPS and so on. Such a setup also results in fast and reliable service. That being said, development time can take a while and overall costs can be fairly significant. In addition, suppor is also a major concern as it's much harder to maintain a platform by platform app.

On the other hand you could use an app that has much of the same ability, but uses a common code base that spans multiple platforms. This is is the hybrid app. Essentially, it's the coupling of native apps with web apps (apps that live on web server and require an Internet connection -think of the Google browser on your device). This combination allows access to native API, but doesn't completely use a native framework. Moreover, the higher level languages of JavaScript, HTML5 and CSS can be used to build an application. However, like native, there will be some difficulties. These issues usually stem from those observed in native and web apps in their separated states. Furthermore, maintenance issues and costs also continue to present issues.

How do you pick which app to pursue? There are going to be proponents and dissenters for each.  One app is necessarily "better" than another. It largely depends on an individual/company. The important thing is to determine the type that fits your needs precisely and to stick with it. Consider a couple of key questions:

  • How important is support for multiple platforms?
  • If you use multiple platforms, how many plaforms are you looking to access?
  • How important are speed and performance?
  • What kind of user interface do you want? Will it be user-centric or application-centric?
  • What's the projected budget?

When it comes to mobile apps, you don’t have to go with just one type. There have been cases of companies choosing to create apps with any combination of native, web and hybrid or maybe even all three. Now, that might not be the right choice for you. Carefully considering options is a necessity that can determine a lot for your app. Sure, there’s a certain amount of risk involved with your choice, but there’s always going to be some risk involved. Moreover, it might turn out to be a fruitful endeavor.

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