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Monday, March 3, 2008

Anywhere apps get a choice of development tools

Today, I'm thinking about two news items this week as I am researching mobile Web site development for my upcoming report:

These two news items reflect the two camps I've talked to about Mobile Web sites. One camp believes that native mobile applications are the only way to get the responsiveness and integration needed for a great mobile experience. In the other camp, though, are a large group of people who believe that the mobile Web will evolve to capture the lion's share of mobile user attention, just as it has on the desktop.

Just like with desktop and laptop computers, I don't think mobile app development will ever be a completely "either-or" proposition; I think we'll see Web AND native app development. For example, if you want to edit photos you've loaded on our laptop, you can edit them either using a desktop app like iPhoto or Photoshop (assuming you have them installed), or you can edit them online using,, and a host of others (assuming you have enough online access available). So why would we expect Anywhere mobile applications to be any different? Some applications will require dedicated native software, others will make more sense on the Web. Both approaches work.

Of course, Apple has already figured this out. Last year, it touted using Web technology to develop iPhone apps. This year, they're announcing the native iPhone SDK. Developers will get to choose which approach meets their customers' Anywhere needs best. The open question is which approach will generate the most excitement and enthusiasm for the platform. And while native apps have always held the edge in prior platforms like Palm and RIM devices, those platforms didn't boast browsers that were as a capable as the iPhone's. Only time will tell which tools developers will choose as their favorites, but at least developers will have the choice.

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