5 Mobile Technology Observations

Three Pillar continues to see significant noise around mobile devices.  The iPad, especially, seems to be changing the way businesses are thinking.  I’m noticing a couple of interesting trends:

iPad

“First to Market”

Mobile apps, to date, have been built with urgency and a primary strategy of “First to Market.” Many of the apps we have seen have been created without a real business model behind them or expected ROI.  Instead, companies have been focused on pushing something out the door.

Real Innovation

Just recently we’ve started to see real innovation.  Companies are considering business model changes which leverage mobile devices in new, interesting ways (http://bit.ly/bhKkLR).  We are starting to move out of the earliest phases of this era. In the future, mobile success will come from true innovation rather than replatforming the same old application onto a new device.

“Mobile Ready”

Enterprises are being challenged to quickly become “Mobile Ready.”  Data and content are both key to the mobile era and must be exposed for consumption.  An open, SOA-based architecture seems to be a critical piece of meaningful mobile deployments.  Some enterprises are ready for this, others, are not.

Platform Independence

I’m guessing that the initial wave of native applications (those written specifically for a device) will eventually give way to platform independence.  As technologies such as Sencha Touch and SproutCore mature, expect their popularity to sky rocket.  The “write once run everywhere” trend is identical the rise of browser based technologies.  As soon as the frameworks are able to mimic 90% of what the native code is able to, enterprises will embrace this in order to realize a significant reduction in development costs.

Strategic Shift

Boutique “Design and Build” firms specializing in mobile apps, many of whom have led the mobile wave to date, will either adapt to a more enterprise-focused business model or be replaced by full service product development groups who are able to guide clients through the strategic shift that is currently underway.  The mobile implementors of tomorrow will understand that mobile is now one critical piece of an increasingly complex and integrated enterprise. They must be ready to deal with all components of that picture.


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  • davidnortonjr

    Great insights David! I think there is room for both native applications and platform independent apps (mobile-optimized web apps).

    First, I don't think we'll see rich applications such as Flash really do well on both desktop and mobile. There are a lot of UI paradigms with a multitouch interface that just don't exist on a point-and-click interface, and vice-versa (for example, there is currently no such thing as "hovering" on touchscreens).

    As far as mobile-specific apps: there will be both. You can save a lot of money with a platform-independent architecture but you will never be able to integrate fully with every device. Even native apps on the Android have trouble working well across all Android devices because there is such a wide array of screen resolutions, processing power, hardware vs. virtual keyboard, single camera vs. multiple cameras, etc.

    In the end, I think the strategy should be somewhat iterative. Start with the website that can be used by desktops, tablets, and smartphones. Then consider creating an optimized version for touchscreen phones. Finally, if your market would benefit from the tight integration, release platform-specific apps.

    From an enterprise application perspective, most probably will go the platform independent route. However for consumer-oriented applications, there can be a lot of advantages to building platform-specific versions.