An ongoing platform and device fragmentation continues to challenge developers, and increases both complexity and cost of mobile application development.
3 approaches to simplify app development
At present there are three major approaches to simplify application development: HTML5, multi-platform development tools, and industry specific white-label solutions. Most of these solutions are rather new to the market. Whether or not multi-platform tools minimize costs and time for a certain app project is difficult to ascertain. There are no general rules. Some guidelines exist, but only apply to certain project types.
Figure 1: Cost reduction concepts in mobile app development and their application range
Those guidelines could be applied to the following project types:
- Limited strategic importance of the app project: If the strategic importance of the published application is limited, development costs weigh more and me-too solutions become acceptable. Off-the-shelf solutions could serve the needs of the project very well, and should therefore be considered.
- App projects that cover common use case in selected industries: As shown in this report, there are already a few ready-to-use, white-label applications that better serve the common mobile use cases of an industry. These white-label applications are offered for retail, publishing, travel, gastronomy, and a growing number of niches. Project sponsors in the aforementioned industries should ask their project managers to research existing solutions before developing from scratch.
- App projects that want to stand out, because of their content or products, and those that have simple functional requirements: If the unique selling proposition of an application primarily depends on its content (e.g. accuracy of news articles or quality of the products to sell) and not on its functionality, HTML5 as a development platform should be the first choice. Today HTML5 can produce applications that are graphically appealing, require network connectivity, and input by the user (e.g. newsreader, shops, search tools).
- App projects which aim to build apps for multiple platforms from the start: If a company wants to reach out to their customer on iOS, Android and at least one other platform, the chances are great that a multi-app development platform could decrease development costs when used at the very beginning.
- Projects that result in dozens of widget apps: Existing “self creation platforms” offer a broad choice of widget–like, small features such as input data forms, calendars, news feeds, weather etc. If a company seeks to develop a large number of simple functionalities, those platforms represent a valid option and should be considered.
When would you make use of multi-platform tools? Please share your views.
For more information on the current status of multi-platform tools, please have a look at our new report “Multi-platform App Development Service Market“.