TechnologyJan 19, 2010

mCommerce Decisions – Part 2

Andrew Warden

In the last blog, I wrote about platform decisions (native or independent approaches), primarily focusing on user and feature function requirements. A bit of a recap – going with a native application generally gives you the best user and feature experience, as noted in the chart below:

However, a major benefit for the platform independence approach is the ability to reach users across devices, resulting in the broadest audience penetration for the least effort – not a trivial aspect when considering mobile commerce. In addition, there is another important set of factors for consideration when choosing your approach to mobile commerce solutions, and that is the impact on development and support.

While the feature experience heavily favors the native platform approach, these are developed in languages such as Objective C or Java Micro Edition which may be more difficult to source in the marketplace and support, compared to the HTML and Javascript development approach traditionally used for independent platform mobile commerce solutions.

If you are considering going the native application route, and still desire or need to reach a broader audience, you could also find yourself needing to source multiple skill sets to build multiple versions of your application (e.g., an iPhone application, a Blackberry application, etc.)

Further, many mobile device manufacturers such as Apply and Research in Motion apply strict QA policies, and will fail applications upon the discovery of initial bugs, which increases the time to market and timing for introducing enhancements or follow-on releases of your mobile commerce solution.

Lastly the effort for upgrades is more cumbersome when pursuing a native platform strategy. Native platform application solutions require users to manually upgrade to the newer version and may require the upgrade of multiple code bases to release newer features. For example, multiple code base maintenance would likely be required to bring to market features impacting your full-featured eCommerce site as well as your native platform application(s).

The table below summarizes the development and support platform considerations:

In summary, both user feature requirements and the impacts on development and support must be factored when choosing the optimal approach for your mobile commerce solution.