Mobile strategy to not be ignored

On 9/26 Monday and 9/27 Tuesday, GigaOM held its Mobilize conference in San Francisco.  Over the next couple of posts, I will talk about the trends that were discussed during the conference.

One hot topic was mobile development strategy mainly around designing for better adoption and technology choices.  The people speaking on the topic were from SalesForce.com, Verizon, MeLLmo, and Rhomobile.

Companies need to create a completely different team focused on mobile development and not use the existing web development team.  The differences between web and mobile development are big enough that one panelist said you will fail if you use the web team.  Another panelist urged companies to rethink all of their development processes and products from the ground up, especially to be based on simplicity like mobile apps.  Do.com (part of SalesForce.com) designed for the tablet then made the web look like it.

When designing a mobile app, companies should think about the end user (whether customers or employees) as people have lower tolerances for bad mobile apps.  At Verizon, they create storyboards about the end user experience and then develop apps from there.  At SalesForce.com, they put a lot of emphasis on personas and develop workflows.  Features such as disconnected/offline capabilities, refreshing part of the app (not the whole app), and a lot of drag and drop (for tablet apps) make for a good experience.

The verdict is still out about native vs HTML5 as the panel was mixed on their recommendation.  Some are hedging their bets like SalesForce.com who is building native and HTML5 apps.  Another panelist says you can go native but leverage HTML5 (like a iOS webUI view).  Using webUI is not the same as native in my opinion although it is an easy way to say to go “native”.  The big supporters of HTML5 said that a native interface can be mimicked with HTML5.  One disagreed saying not all of the great native interfaces are available.  The big advantage with HTML5 is that it is not locked into any mobile OS and you can design once and make it available for all mobile devices.  I agree with the theoretical strategy, but the HTML5 app will be restrained to the limits of the mobile browser, still in its infant stage.

All the panelists seem to be on the same page that leveraging the native features of the phone/tablet are important for the user experience.  One panelist said that you can’t have a high performing app unless you go native.  This statement is correct as of today, but companies like Google are pushing for improved mobile browser standards.  The debate continues…

Sophia Perl

Sophia Perl is a product manager for a database tool at IBM. She has over 10 years of software development and management experience. Sophia holds a BS in Computer Science from University of Southern California and an MBA from University of California at Davis. She is the creator of iPhone apps PicPredict and Eventabulous.

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