Fallacies about Mobile Application Development

We sometimes find that when we present mobile application development proposals and statements of work to our prospective customers there is a sharp intake of breath as they read the effort, time, resources, and price required to mobilize their workforce.

Upon reflection, however – especially when everyone begins to realize that the mobile application requires genuine application development expertise – everyone seems to calm down.

This initial reaction is hard to explain, but it seems to be due to several common fallacies, which can be summarized as follows.

  1. Mobile application development is easier. People seem to feel that developing application for mobile devices is easier. In fact, it is probably harder. There are many difficulties that need to be overcome, including ergonomic, connectivity, and smaller display area considerations.
  2. Mobile application development is faster. There is the notion that developing applications on mobile devices is somehow faster. In actually, it is probably no faster or slower than any other application development effort. It depends on the complexity of the application being developed and other factors that typically comprise project development.
  3. Mobile application development is cheaper. Neither the development of mobile applications nor the devices are necessarily inexpensive. The devices themselves are not cheap if you compare by the cost of a Pocket PC or a Tablet PC with a connected desktop computer.

By the time you have finished purchasing a Pocket PC and all its accessories, it may be as expensive as a desktop (and may be considerably higher).

Part of this cost is simply the intrinsic expense of manufacturing these technologically advanced devices. In addition, you may also need to develop and test a new mobile application on multiple devices, which adds to the overall cost.

Mobility pertains to people’s use of portable and functionally powerful devices. These devices allow users to perform a set of application functions un-tethered while also being able to connect to, obtain data from, and provide data to other users, applications, and systems.

While people may want true mobility, the technology is not yet there in terms of portability, functionality, usability, or connectivity. Mobile devices that are lightweight, flexible, and useful by one measure are still large and cumbersome by other measures and cannot operate for long periods without the need to obtain power.

Extending desktop client, web, and legacy application functionality to mobile devices is still very much in its infancy. We also cannot always guarantee continuous, uninterrupted connectivity.

It is not easy to design, develop, and integrate mobile applications well. As designers and developers, however, this is a fertile area for imaginative and creative solutions.

Valentino Lee, Heater Schneider, and Robbie Schell; “Mobile Applications: Architecture, Design, and Development,” Publishing partner HP, 2004

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