Native Apps Vs Global Apps
Remember the days of yore where the mention of “apps” only stirred curious glances? Perhaps your handset was equipped with an Address Book, Calculator, SMS and a Brick Builder game thrown in for good measure. At that time, such features were device-specific and suitably highlighted in marketing material.
When iPhone entered the smartphone market, its critical acclaim came from iPhone apps. Apple based its iPhone ecosystem around the App Store. Native apps gained popularity through iOS although Nokia pioneered this native apps concept with its Symbian OS (later distributed to other OEMs). In the world of mobile app development, designing native apps for a platform or device bring in their own set of advantages.
1. Built Around the Device: App developers can make full use of the device’s hardware potential while coding native apps.
2. Pre-Installed Package: Native apps can be coded using the specific OS’s SDK to be supplied as pre-installed package on a device. This will help the OEM give the device a premium positioning.
3. Platform Specific Apps for Niche Segment: Native app developers derive huge benefits from coding platform specific native apps targeting the niche segment. Apple’s SIRI iPhone app is a good example which Apple patented to make it an iOS exclusive. Other players have tried to replicate it with limited success.
Global apps scalable across platforms and global mobile apps distributed across different OEMs complete the other end of the spectrum. Google’s Android OS is the dominant player with its Google Play mobile app store. Android apps seem to be closing the gap with iPhone apps in terms of number of downloads. Reasons could be many for this shifting trend but a few points as to why global apps are find wider acceptance could be:
1. Gain for OEMs: Smartphone manufacturers stand to gain by licensing the OS and mobile apps from the developer. OEMs don’t have to invest on R&D for proprietary OS or hire developers for mobile apps. Makes more business sense to simply license them out, like in the case of Google’s Android. It’s licensed free under the Open Handset Alliance (OHA). Android apps can be customised for the OS or the device by the OEM.
2. Available across Devices: The end user gets to use his favourite app across devices. Like in the case of Android apps, he can use it on any Android based smartphone.
3. Bigger Target Market: Android app developers gain to have access to a larger target market due to the sheer number of devices that run Android. The probability of an Android app hitting success is greater due to the larger target market. Native apps or global apps, both have their share of the app market and one cannot be placed over the other.
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