My friend David Wood posts a thoughtful piece on the challenges of mobile application fragmentation.
He outlines the challenge faced by many companies who want to deliver mobile applications - the the two warring camps are
- Focus on one iconic device platform
- Prioritise web based delivery
Each strategy has their place - but some applications need the combination of the two - application features integrated with the device, and broad reach.
What sort of strategy can be used to meet these challenges?
One example is a hero device plus browser strategy.
Development efforts are split between both applications, and web based delivery. There is however a difference in features between the two.
Hero devices are the iconic devices that are used by, or desired by the key market. The effort on the applications here is to create a dedicated experience for those devices that provides a superb experience, that will turn those lead customers into evangelists for your product.
The remainder of the market is delivered a more limited feature set in a browser based experience.
Why does this work?
Hero devices are the iconic devices that people desire - where your customers don't have the device, they desire the device - and seeing the improved experience from your application compared to their current device helps them justify why that desire is rational and reasonable.
Key to this is understanding that hero devices are not necessarily the devices that people have today. They are the devices that they want - so while your user base may be browsers today, if they desire an iPhone, then investing in an iPhone specific application benefits your existing browser users, in spite of the fact it's only a small proportion of the user base.
To quote Wayne Gretzky:
Skate to where the puck is going to be, not to where it has been