2 March 2008

Are Native Mobile Applications Dead?

There's been an interesting discussion on the internal TSSG technical discussion list in recent days spurred by this provocative post from Michael Mace, an ex Palm employee: Mobile Opportunity: Mobile applications, RIP. His basic thesis is that it is so painful trying to develop for so many hardware platforms (that currently make up the mobile handset market) that developers will inevitably be drawn towards mobile web applications instead, even though this certainly has its own problems. He claims the business model for mobile developers of native applications is so flawed that the web-based approach will inevitably win out. It is an attractive thesis and one that definitely appeals to me.

To see some of the other on-line contributions to this debate:

  • 3 Million Platforms (Elia Freedman, CEO of Infinity Softworks - posted in October 2007 - the comments point out that Symbian is actually composed a number of incompatible platforms including various versions of S60 and UIQ)
  • Mobile Applications are dead (Stefan - Feb 2008) with a nice tombstone graphic
  • What's all that other software for? (Peter Harbeson Feb 2008) explains how much functionality there is already available via the web on mobile smartphones

Unlike many of my colleagues I have such to a UIQ3 phone, the Sony Ericsson P1i (others seem to have Nokia N95 or iPhones), and even with its limited web browsing capabilities (Opera 2.3.08) it is a really useful tool. The native applications I use are: voice calls and SMS, camera, PIM (contacts, notes, calendar - though I sync with Google Calendar), and a very useful SSH client. In an emergency I use email (but it's very slow to sync with my IMAP server that has hundreds of folders), being able to send email is definitely useful. I use the mini-qwerty-keyboard and the touch-sensitive screen with a stylus for hand writing recognition about equally. Ironically I really like the built-in FM radio and use this more frequently than the MP3 player - which I do use for podcasts and music using a 4Gig card for external storage. If the bowser were more robust I would definitely use it even more.

Posted by mofoghlu at March 2, 2008 12:53 PM | TrackBack
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