Design once and stop. That development strategy seems like a route to a software dead end, yet it is an approach that is representative of many apps created for mobile devices.
Individuals and businesses are rushing to develop their specialist iPhone and Android apps, software that runs on one particular device and which fills a particular niche in the market. In the short-term, your development approach can afford to be based on point solutions.
Such a development approach allows you to get used to the fast-developing market. For larger organisations, short-termism allows the IT team to dabble and create a marketing buzz. In many cases, the app is a means to show your company is cool, rather than a new and realistic revenue stream.
In the long-term, that strategy will fail. Mobile devices will be the home of web- enabled work and play. Betting your strategy on one particular platform is not a realistic approach. After all, the market is fracturing across multiple smart phone operating systems, such as Apple, Research in Motion, Symbian and Windows.
That fracturing cannot last. Native mobile apps constructed for a single platform might feel better and run faster. But to quote Google’s DeWitt Clinton (see further reading, below), such nativity is a bug and not a feature.
Just as in the case of the desktop, developers have had to find ways to make their software run across multiple operating systems. And in the mobile era, you and your business will have to move towards an integrated point.
Do you really want different sets of developers for each and every platform? Do not differentiate too much because at some point you are going to have to aim for convergence.
Advancements in mobile web browsing continue to take place. Take jQuery Mobile, a recently announced web framework for smart phones that will provide a unified user interface system across all popular mobile device platforms.
Further progress comes in the form of HTML5, which is currently under development as the next major revision of the hypertext markup language standard. The platform will promote deployment across multiple platforms and includes features that previously required third-party plug-ins, such as Flash.
The result is that the dream of building once and deploying everywhere could soon become a reality. The future of development is the mobile web.