Mobile Web and SaaS App Users Need Device Switching Flexibility

As I noted in a previous blog “Smartphones in the IT Ecosystem”, smartphones are a part of the IT ecosystem and have to co-exist with other important players in the ecosystem such as laptops, desktops and mainframes. By working together and in harmony with these other devices and systems, smartphones can become far more powerful and valuable than what they are in isolation on their own.  In this blog I discuss the need for smartphones to seamlessly work together with laptops and desktops. Read more

Making Mobile Web Apps Suitable for Discontinuous Working Patterns

Mobile users, by definition, are on the move. That is why they need a mobile device instead of being content with their desktops and telephones which can do far more than a smartphone. Mobile users are often interrupted. They can lose connections, get a phone call, or need to focus on some other pressing issue. Unlike users at home and or in the office, mobile users generally do not have a lot of time to focus on completing a task. Even the time that they have for any given task is unpredictable because they often cannot foresee when they will be interrupted. To cope with this, mobile users must be able to work in small, discontinuous chunks of time. The typical work pattern is that they start a task, change focus to something else when interrupted, and then come back to the task at some later time. So the task gets done in small chunks spread over of time. This is one reason why Chat/Instant Messaging, which is ideally suited for working in small, discontinuous chunks of time, is by far the most popular smartphone application. Read more

Cross-platform Mobile Web Apps with Native User Interface

The rapid introduction of a new smartphones from leading vendors with different screen sizes and operating systems has created a dilemma for Web and SaaS application vendors. These application vendors already have existing or new customers who are buying smartphones in increasingly large numbers. Application vendors thinking about developing native apps have two choices. They can either support all popular smartphones, which is very expensive, or they can support only one or two smartphones which means that many of their customers will be unable to access their app from unsupported smartphones. Neither choice is appealing. Read more

Why Web Apps are the Future of Smartphones

Native apps are the rage for smartphone users today. Every smartphone user wants native apps to download, and almost every software and services vendor is craving to have a native app for their product or service. Already the market for smartphone apps is in the billions of dollars and is forecasted to be  hit fifteen billions of dollars in 2013.  The rage for native apps is fueled by the phenomenal, ongoing success of the Apple iPhone and the Apple AppStore, and to some extent by the success of Google Android. Thousand of application developers, ranging from small, one-man companies to large corporations, have latched on to the desire to develop the next killer app or, in the case of corporations,  to make sure that their product or service do not lag behind their competitors who have jumped on to the native app bandwagon. Read more

“Chunking” Enables Better User Interfaces for Mobile Apps

Desktops applications designed for Personal Computers in a Microsoft-dominated era have become bloated in terms of their sheer size as well as their user interface. The availability of huge amounts of cheap memory, increasing CPU speed and large screen sizes encouraged application developers to create huge applications that aimed to provide a lot of information and functionality on one screen. The most successful example of applications in this model is Microsoft Office. This is large and powerful application. One can even argue that it is an industry on to itself. The design objective of Office is to enable everyone to do everything. Successive version of Office provided increasing functionality and the application and its user interface became more and more complex. The vast majority of Microsoft Office users only used a small fraction of its capability. That became the Microsoft model and many other vendors clamored to adopt the same model. It is not surprising that Microsoft Windows Mobile and its predecessor Microsoft Windows CE were based on a similar model to address the needs of the growing number of mobile smartphone users. Read more