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Planning your mobile development strategy?

Having launched our first mobile application for iPad and iPhone (yes, we went native) – many of our internal discussions (more like heated debates!) centre around which mobile operating system should be next.

We discovered that if you are embarking on a mobile development strategy, there are a number of factors to be considered, depending on your end goal:

  • Are you targeting the masses or the boardroom?
  • Are your users on smartphones or feature phones or tablets?
  • What is the device penetration in your target geographical region?
  • What capacity do you have to build and maintain a mobile offering?
  • Do you go mobile web, mobile app or hybrid?

 

5 Things to consider when planning your mobile development strategy

The Boardroom Factor: is your primary objective being a topic in 'C-level' conversations or do you need to reach the most users as fast as possible? Your target audience for launch will be a determining factor in your mobile development strategy.

If you already service Web users, then you have a fortune of information at your fingertips. Start tracking what operating system is being used to access your website. If you are unable to gather your own user profiling, there's plenty of research online indicating device penetration and mobile behaviour by region and demographic.

Mobile App vs Mobile Web: while the world goes 'app crazy', take a moment to consider whether a native app (specific to an operating system) is the best approach for your functionality and resources. Building and maintaining an app per platform can be really expensive.

On the flip side, HTML5 has received a lot of attention and some see it as the way forward for mobile Web functionality.

There are arguments for both sides. Some believe that Apps have won and that HTML5 falls short in reducing the functionality gap between websites and apps. If you can't decide, consider developing a hybrid app – best of both worlds?

What resources do you have available? Wouldn't it be great if we had unlimited time and money? Then we wouldn't have to factor resources into the mix. The reality is everyone operates with limitations and the decision whether to build an app and which O/S to support will impact your resource management. For example, Blackberry has a reputation of being difficult to develop for and iOS is not far behind in the graph below.


Which horse should you back
: if you have to prioritise an O/S, and reaching the most users is your primary goal, then Android is probably the best horse to back. With multiple devices supporting this operating system and the backing of Google, the penetration of Android looks set to skyrocket. Internationally Android now boasts more than half of U.S. smartphone sales. Although, as a slow starter out of the blocks, Windows Phone could be the horse that comes charging through at the finish.


App user behaviour: device penetration does not equal application downloads. Blackberry might have a high penetration in a region, but they certainly haven't made as many downloads as for example Apple users. Wikipedia publishes a list of apps available per store and tracks downloads.

 

Who's going to win the race?

This is still a multi-horse race. No one wants to back the lagging horse by either choosing the wrong approach or focusing on the wrong operating system.

You have to base your decision on multiple factors, weighting each against your end goal.

How did you approach your mobile app development strategy?

Working with various platforms
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