At GigaOm’s Mobilize conference, a panel is currently discussing the ongoing challenge of deciding what platform on which to develop mobile products. Of course, the answer is, “it depends.” As we explored in a recent report, this will most often have a lot to do with reach, as well as other factors like the capabilities of the platform.
When it comes to native apps, the latter is an important question for some product developers. Mobile local social apps, for example, don’t shine on the iPhone where there is no “background functionality” (though Loopt recently found a way around this challenge). Yet the iPhone is the new sexy device where most developers go to first. In their defense, it has the leading share of mobile Web use despite its low single-digit share of overall devices.
As far as native apps go, this gives the iPhone choice credence when reach is an issue. Android will increasingly come into this discussion as more and more device manufacturers adopt it. Stepping back from native apps, there are of course more pervasive platforms like SMS and the mobile Web.
On the topic of platform capability, the mobile Web is meanwhile gaining attention for being able to do more and more. This has caused many developers to look past native apps for platforms like iPhone and Android, especially cost-conscious developers (read: most developers).
“We just operate on the mobile Web so it’s totally browser based,” said Mark Curtis, CEO of Flirtomatic. “When you go into app land, you slow down delivery time. Yes, apps have a lot going for them, but you can’t turn them on for a sixpence. And for a start-up, that’s a problem.”