Research: App Dev in the Age of Mobility

Aug 07, 2012


Ready, Set, Code

Pick up a new iPhone or Samsung Galaxy. These aren't "smart telephones." They're handheld computers. That's even truer for iPads and the parade of Android devices trying to chip away at Apple's tablet lead. And what do people do with computers? They make applications for them.

For enterprises, fully exploiting these devices means empowering employees to use them for more than quick email checks or Web searches. IT needs to take the lead in optimizing business processes for mobility and stake out an app development strategy. You can't just transfer techniques that worked well in the PC client-server age. Mobile apps are a distinct species. Your choice could be native clients, it could be HTML5, it could be a combination or a hybrid approach, placing a native UI skin around a mobile-optimized HTML application. What IT definitely can't do is passively drift along, allowing each business unit to do its own thing. That will give rise to a security nightmare, and you'll pay dearly for not being able to reuse code.

Not that reuse is a given.

"We have found mobile Web being cheaper than native is a fallacy," says one respondent to our 2012 Mobile Application Development Survey. "We still end up creating many sets of assets for different platforms, and Web browser fragmentation is as bad if not worse than dealing with multiple mobile platforms."

Still, our survey shows no clear leading strategy. Far from it, in fact--this is anybody's game. Users weaned on slick app store fare may spurn small-screen browser apps, but thanks to HTML5, browser technology isn't standing still or going away. Whether mobility means a return to native development for your shop largely depends on the audience--business apps for employees and partners are a different matter from those aimed at customers. In this report, we'll mainly focus on the former, but many principles are the same.

We'll run down device platforms, design choices, development tools and deployment options and conclude with recommendations on mobilizing your enterprise applications and business processes. (R5360812)

Survey Name   InformationWeek 2012 Mobile Application Development Survey
Survey Date   July 2012
Region   North America
Number of Respondents    350
Purpose   To examine mobile platform development options, where and why enterprises are building mobile applications, and what they are looking for in mobile IDEs and development tools.

Research Report