October 09, 2012, 11:25 AM — Make no mistake: The enterprise is getting serious about developing and delivering mobile business apps. But whether the goal is to spread news, sell products, collaborate with business partners, or push mobile apps as products in themselves, the constant emergence and evolution of mobile platforms have many IT organizations wondering how best to execute the vision -- and what tools and methodologies they should implement to deliver their apps to the right audience at the right time, regardless of device.
Some of these emerging business apps have short lifetimes by design, such as event guidebooks, while others will persist for years. Some, like augmented reality viewers, need constant real-time information and access to low-level handset capabilities such as geolocation, camera, and motion sensors. Others require little more than a mobile screen and the user's finger. But there is one commonality: Every business wants IT to develop apps as quickly and cheaply as possible, and many want the apps IT creates to run on multiple device types -- Android, iOS, and Windows at least.
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Not surprisingly, such diverse requirements have spawned a huge array of development tools. Navigating the sea of options can be tricky, as no one tool offers the trifecta of fast, cheap, feature-rich app delivery. If your organization isn't careful, you could find yourself boxed in to a development choice that doesn't grow with user needs, as Facebook discovered when it realized HTML5 wasn't the best approach for its iOS app.
Carefully assessing your prospective app's current and future requirements is key, as is balancing those requirements with the time it takes to get your app to market. Don't feel you have to choose a single platform for every app. It's reasonable to employ multiple development platforms to meet a variety of delivery requirements. The following is a primer on how to make the right choices for your mobile development needs.
Mobile app development's three golden paths