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Following up on my post last week titled 'Balancing Mobile App Development Costs and Business Value' which sparked great conversation with SAP Community Network members. For those that are looking to download the new SAP Mobile App Advisor app, visit the campaign page or download from iTunes to get started with the tool that takes you through a series of questions to help you identify mobile app opportunities that deliver the greatest value to your business based on your use of mobile devices, size, focus, and more.

 

Keeping on the topic of delivering value in the development and deployment of mobile apps, let's dig a bit deeper on the dollar and sense details. New mobile app technologies are lowering the cost of app development, which makes it easier to justify the cost of new mobile business apps.  The key to reducing development costs and increasing app value lies in three interrelated technical developments that impact mobile app developers:

 

1. The emergence of HTML5 as a viable mobile app development language – HTML5, the latest version of the standard language for creating web apps, interests developers because it is cross-platform. That means an HTML5 app built once is portable to other browser equipped mobile devices. It also has new capabilities such as better memory management, more graphics control, and threaded performance. These make HTML5 useful for building more robust web apps. Best of all, HTML5 development skills are less specialized and easier to learn than native app development, which means that in general, HTML5 apps cost less to develop than native apps.

 

In spite of these advantages, HTML5 apps have shortcomings which limit their use in the enterprise. For instance they have limited ability to process large data volumes, they have no direct control over device-specific hardware, HTML5 does not support authentication, it does not allow pushing messaging or app updates to individual devices, and it cannot securely handle back-end data.

 

There is, however, another technology that can give HTML5 apps enterprise-grade security, data handling, and device management capabilities.
That is the hybrid app container.

 

2. Hybrid app containers available as part of a mobile app development platform – A web app container is a native application designed to process generic function calls from a web application. Containers enable generic HTML5 web apps to perform functions that are highly specific to a particular device type’s hardware and data handling capabilities. By using native app containers for each device type supported in a business mobility environment, it becomes possible to create a single HTML5 application that performs advanced, device specific operations on all the different devices. Popular HTML5 frameworks make it possible to have a single code base running across all containers. Suddenly a single web application can have nearly the same capability as native apps created for each supported device. This not only lowers the cost of app development, but it dramatically shifts the amount of functionality a developer can build into a mobile app with a given amount of development effort.

 

3. The availability of low or no cost cross-platform development tools - Cross platform developer tools are frameworks that enable developers to create mobile apps for multiple platforms with essentially the same codebase. PhoneGap, Appcelerator, and Sencha are market leading examples. These tools have turned out to be a boon to mobile app developers because they make it much easier for developers with basic web development skills to create feature-rich mobile apps with HTML5 and Javascript. These apps will run on any device.

 

 

There is a great video clip from John Wargo, Senior Director, Developer Strategy and Evangelism at SAP, about these keys that reduce mobile app development costs and how SAP has addressed these keys for our customers and partners. Watch the video below.

 

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