Air Pressure: Why IT Must Sort Out App Mobilization Challenges

Equipping mobile employees with the feature-rich applications and highly functional devices they need to maximize productivity has never been easy. But if you wait for market forces to impose a clearer road map, you risk falling behind competitors.

InformationWeek Staff, Contributor

December 4, 2009

2 Min Read

Native Vs. Web

So which way should companies go? Native applications--those built using languages such as C++ or Java that execute locally on the device--provide the most responsive user experience while allowing offline operation. However, native applications come with a hefty price--namely, coding environments that are generally more difficult to debug compared with desktop environments.

In addition, the application will work only for one particular platform, meaning that companies need to build or buy different versions for BlackBerry, Google, and iPhone devices.

In contrast, the browser model simplifies software sales and distribution considerably, as otherwise application vendors must work with multiple application stores, such as the iPhone and Android stores, and then break apps down further for each platform. Simpler mobile application distribution will encourage greater innovation and development, ultimately benefiting both businesses and consumers. Furthermore, the average IT department has in-house Web content management skills, including authoring expertise. However, not as many departments have the sophisticated skills needed to develop--and debug--native applications.

One survey respondent is sold on the Web approach. "We use BES server to give us relatively secure access to our internal network," says Alfons Schermaier, senior architect at chemicals manufacturer PPG Industries. "From that point on, we use standard Web app development techniques and a design approach for the application that makes maximum use of the reduced screen real estate. These applications can also be used from a PC browser if needed. Testing is a bit more involved with the multiple target clients, but the applications have greater utility, and once you get the hang of this, you can really start to deliver more quickly."

Speed is the name of the game for many IT groups, making the native vs. Web calculation that much easier.

Peter Rysavy is a wireless technology expert and president of Rysavy Research

Impact Assessment: Mobilized Applications
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