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Tips For Multi-Platform Mobile App Development

New Forrester report has advice for enterprises supporting the consumerization of IT.

Publishing an app in an enterprise today means supporting at least two platforms--and potentially up to four--to cover all of your employees. Unlike apps published for consumers, enterprise apps often need to rollout changes and enhancements simultaneously to all employees, rather than one platform at a time. How can you maximize functionality and performance without breaking the bank or killing your IT staff?

Forrester Research has released a report called "Building Mobile Apps? Start with the Web; Move to Hybrid." It discusses the four main approaches to development: native, hybrid, mobile middleware, and Web.

Native apps are the best-performing apps. They are tailored to each platform and take advantage of functionality provided by the OS. For example, Evernote probably has more clients available than most apps. It supports Windows, Mac OS X, iOS, Android, Blackberry, webOS, Windows Phone 7, as well as ensuring Web compatibility and native clipping features for Safari, Internet Explorer, Chrome, and Firefox. Evernote has stated in podcasts and blogs that native apps provide the richest customer experience, and it's worth it for the company to invest to target each platform specifically.

The disadvantage for Evernote is each client is at a different level of functionality. Just peruse through the Evernote Blog to see features added to some platforms while others must wait a while. That works for consumer apps, but not for enterprise apps. You generally need to get the same level of functionality out to everyone at roughly the same time.

How do you determine what approach to take? By answering some questions about your objectives, strategy, existing technology, and a few others, you can figure out which application model works best for you. For example, if you are a smaller company and the app is 100% internal, you can limit device support to perhaps one or two platforms. For larger companies, where employees as well as external business partners need access to the app, you may now have three to four platforms.

The Forrester report will guide you through some of these issues, hopefully saving you time and resources by not heading down a path that will cost too much, or worse, leave you with a project that never quite gets off of the ground.

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User Rank: Apprentice
1/11/2012 | 3:37:43 PM
re: Tips For Multi-Platform Mobile App Development
HTML5 was supposed to solve all of this for us. Is that not going to be the case ;-)
Maybe everyone, including Oracle, needs to rethink Java and come to an agreement that will at least allow that on all platforms so less effort is required. Oracle, whether it realizes it or not, had better work with the community on Java or it will go by the wayside as tablets, smartphones, etc... evolve and companies continue to ask themselves if they want to fight to put Java on a platform. I also think a small fee per device to support a Java environment (or Java like/replacement if Oracle won't play nice) would be go to make sure that Java development is funded across platforms
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