Cross platform trumps native apps

January 13, 2016
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The other day, I turned on a financial morning news show to hear that 75 percent of consumers are now using their mobile phones when shopping online. That’s three-quarters of all consumers!

Mind-blowing, perhaps, but it sounded about right to me.

Here are two other head-turning facts about mobile users: Last year the number of mobile devices surpassed the number of PCs worldwide and there are now even more mobile phones than there are people on earth! (Read this TechCrunch article for more on that).

Mobile means business

As I reflected on my own mobile phone use, it reinforced for me that the smart phone revolution is nearly as profound a technological step forward as the Internet itself was. It has likely transformed almost every social, media and personal interaction you have, as well. And if it hasn't done that for you, then just look at your kids. The advent of specialized apps and notifications has connected us all to businesses in ways we could have only imagined a few years ago.

It’s my belief that if a business has not already embraced the consumer-driven reality of mobile, then they’re at a serious competitive disadvantage.

A key example of this is Amazon Prime. Amazon had 10 million people try Prime during the 2014 holiday season alone — and it’s growing rapidly. (More on that from this NBC story)

Appetite for multiple apps?

Now consider your own business.

Clients of ours used to tell us that mobile was a longer-term consideration. Now, the majority of them have made it clear that mobile is a significant part of their current and upcoming budgets and plans.

However, the challenge for businesses today is to determine whether to create an app for each type of device (i.e., a “native app”) or construct a cross-platform app that can work on all devices (i.e., one app used by all devices).

It’s clear that historically in application development, most businesses have created single-platforms apps. This is clearly illustrated when you realize that Android has more device market share than iOS.

The case for cross-platform apps

Unfortunately, many of the companies that are developing more limited, single-platform technology are wasting money. These organizations typically have two teams working on two different apps with very little — other than remote services — shared between them.

I would argue the following points:

**If you are beginning development on a mobile application, you should be employing cross-platform technologies.

**If you’ve already built a mobile application with a single-platform technology, then you should strongly consider rewriting it in cross-platform.

Why? Because with that old single-platform approach, the majority of your long-term investment will be spent on new features, integration to more systems and maintenance.

It’s my belief that the cross-platform tools currently available have matured to a point where you need to seriously ask, “Why are we building this in a single-platform framework?”

Xamarin, Cordova and Ionic are great examples of quickly-maturing technologies that can save companies major dollars in long-term maintenance and future development costs.

Your move

So, if you haven't started building your mobile strategy — now is the time.

Look to cross platform as a critical part of the “how” in your company’s strategy. And building the initial app is just the start of this journey. Supporting it, enhancing it and weaving your business’s strategy into your apps — that’s where the significant opportunities and long-term savings are really at.

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