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Mobile services development: The ports might get you

In some ways, mobile development is a bit like the bad old days of multiple Unix versions. Development teams can be kept busy full time just cycling through the multiple OSes they need to support.

 

For that reason, the plethora of mobile platforms will continue to be an obstacle for many enterprise application builders. In the view of Forrester Research Analyst Jeffrey Hammond, cost is a major factor.

 

There are little savings found for those who develop to multiple platforms, Forrester’s research suggests. Much of the cost of development for the original platform is encountered again in the subsequent application ports, Hammond told an audience at Forrester’s Application Development and Delivery Forum in Boston.

 

”People are saying it costs 50 to 70% [of the original project cost] to port to a second platform,” he said. Even in cases where needs for rewrites slim, testing and tweaking for different devices’ screen sizes can still run from 20 to 30% of the cost of the original project, according to Hammond.

 

JavaScript, HTML5 and Web browser interfaces may eventually be a mobile game changer. But it is early to tell. Hardware vendors have begun to embed hooks that speed up browser execution capabilities.

 

But, because there are performance benefits to native mobile OS support today – and performance can be the decisive factor in mobile application success – the dilemma of multiple ports may be with us awhile.

 

Hammond cited one, native; two, Web; three, hybrid;  and four, mobile middleware as a service as the main approaches to mobile application development at present.

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