If you haven’t picked up on the massive growth in mobile device usage (cell phones, smart phones, tablets, netbooks, etc…) in the past couple of years, I would like to welcome you back from the rock you’ve been living under! You’ve no doubt seen the influx of teens through senior citizens with their faces buried in their mobile devices. With smart phones becoming so prevalent, it’s becoming easier to do just about anything you can do on your computer, right from your phone.
If you have a smart phone, you have an App Store! That’s just the way it is these days. BlackBerry users have App World, if you have an iPhone, you have the App Store, Android owners (like myself) have the Android Market. The bottom line is, if you need an app for your phone, there’re easily accessible options. In most cases the apps you need are FREE or very inexpensive. That certainly hasn’t hurt the growth of mobile software consumption.
With all of these platforms, developers have a pretty big hurdle in their way. To cover the most popular smart phone platforms, they need to develop 3 separate apps. This means a bigger investment for most companies, for an app that is almost always free. Ad-supported software can yield big returns for developers, but it’s quite a risk to take when investing substantial time into the development of a mobile app.
One Winning Platform… Nope
At the dawn of the PC explosion, there emerged a clear winner in regard to platform. It can be debated all day about whether the winner was the best or not, but the bottom line is, when you look at market share, there is no doubt that they are the victor.
In the mobile industry, I just can’t see that happening. The explosion of popularity in the devices happened way too far into the lifecycle for smart phones. After all, they have been around for ages now.
What’s My Point?
Developing for all mobile platforms isn’t going to get any easier. That is, unless the development tools improve significantly and allow for saving an app out for different platforms,
Mobile Apps Learn a Lesson From Desktop Apps and Embrace the Cloud
The web has made software development so much easier to distribute, update, and implement. Recall though that desktop software was the only game in town when PCs started to become very popular. Now, we use Gmail, Google Docs, Basecamp, Mail Chimp, etc…
Even Microsoft has stepped into the ring with a web based version of Office. It’s much more convenient for the consumer, and the developer.
All Smart Phones Have Browsers
Right now, that is consistent from one device to the next. Developing a web app, accommodates all smart phone users. Taking a look at the mobile version for Gmail for instance, you can see that the rich interface is every bit as functional as an actual app.
I Think History Will Repeat Itself, Much Faster
I could be dead wrong, but it would be very surprising to me, if the mobile software industry doesn’t move more towards apps in the cloud. Anymore, you have to have a data plan with your smart phone. The mobile data speeds are improving, allowing a DSL or Cable-like speed right from your phone. With 3-4 major platforms running on smart phones, the cloud is the answer.