Posted on 03/01/2011
Forrester Predicts Mobile Apps Will Drive Tech Industry
The explosion of app development that started with the iPhone and has since spread to Blackberry, Android, Windows and even your bicycle's navigation system, seems to continue unabated despite promises that computing will move from the consumer device to the cloud (wasn't Google working on this?). Forrester of course predicts that app development will "drive tech industry innovation and have far-reaching pricing and go-to-market implications for software and services providers" which is gobbledygook for "expect everyone to continue willy-nilly building more silly and probably useless mobile applications." Forrester also predicts that companies like idhra will be handsomely compensated for building them. Now, we're all for the last part, but does this really make sense?
More is Definitely Not Better
The current "state of the art" app development requires parallel development in Java for Android and Blackberry, Objective-C for iOS and C# for Windows... And of course each OS has it's own SDK, so development has to then be staged into multiple parallel efforts. And if the app is offering similar functionality to that which you're already offering through your website, that means you've written (and your team is supporting) the same functionality in at least four different applications. Does that sound like sanity to you?
Isn't the Thinnest Client Your Browser?
Of course, the solution is to make a "thin" client app that relies on one application server to provide the data for it's services and centralize all your business rules... Hmmm. Where have I heard THAT before.
Mobile Apps Are Dumb
We are of the opinion that Mobile Apps are generally a dumb idea. With very few exceptions (games, navigation), app development is the wrong place to start for getting your services onto Internet enabled devices. Real innovation will leverage the intersection of cloud-based services (Smart Computing) and newly Internet-enabled devices like mobile phones, tablets, cars, appliances, and entertainment systems. The development of this model, with cloud-supported applications feeding device specific browsers, will not only foster huge levels of innovation, but also open up new services opportunities around the creation and management of these B2C, B2B, and B2E services. And as important to most of us is that you won't be supporting four or more development and maintenance efforts just to get the same functionality to all your customers.
If you're feeling a bit nauseous by all the demands on you to build mobile apps in your company, give us a call. We probably can't stop your CEO from thinking he needs them, but we can build solutions that will keep you sane and satisfy your company's business needs.*
We of course continue to build mobile apps as our customers continue to demand them, and can do so for you, but believe many of these efforts could and should be done as internet applications with a mobile device presentation layer.