by Purushottam Darshankar
It all started a year back, when Apple launched its App Store for the iPhone 3G, and ever since then, there has been enormous interest across the mobile ecosystem to emulate this model. The technology advancements in mobile computing- 3G networks, high resolution displays, battery life and more- are paving the way for a new generation of enterprise mobility applications. Needless to say, the future is mobile, as next phase of business mobility will go considerably beyond e-mails. The concept of App Store fundamentally changes the way in which the applications are made available on the mobile handset and have enormous implication on how the revenues are likely to be distributed across the value chain.
Following its popularity, many device vendors made their own software stores for their mobile platform. Palm published the “Application Store” similar to app store; Microsoft announced the “Windows Market place for Mobile” for windows mobile devices. RIM has launched its application store “BlackBerry App World” and Nokia announced the “Ovi Store” for its S60 and S40 devices.
The new trend in mobile enterprise market shows that businesses are not willing to purchase the middleware platform that connects mobile users to back end systems. Instead they are looking for prepackaged hosted solution where return on investment can be gained by improving the operational efficiencies of field service personnel.
But for the most part, hosted mobility services have not been popular because businesses want to keep the critical information in-house rather than allowing it to reside outside the firewall. Enterprises also need to think more about how mobility integrates with the existing enterprise infrastructure and what can be pushed into mobile environment as an application for their field personnel.
The most widely used mobile operating systems in business mobility are BlackBerry and Windows Mobile, with European enterprises often supporting Symbian as well. However, it is no surprise that iPhone has started making its presence in enterprise mobility market. Some of the enterprise mobility applications were hit and made its presence felt at App Store. Few of these applications require the involvement of company’s IT department as specific software needs to reside on organizations IT infrastructure.
At App Store, Oracle Business Approvals for Sales Representative/Managers allows user to review sales quotes and approve or reject them, and chart sales forecasts, quotas, and actual numbers. Salesforce.com recently posted an updated version of Salesforce Mobile for the iPhone to give salespeople access to contact and account information in Salesforce.com. JAMF Software's JSS Mobile lets IT pros manage their companies' Mac systems from their iPhones. Applications developed through the Enterprise Program are exclusively for institutional use which allows businesses to develop more proprietary applications not for public release.
In business mobility app store space, security issues are a top concern among organizations that must address strict security, regulatory requirements when implementing mobile device and application solutions. There will be few takers from banking, financial services and insurance firms for such service. As a result, it is believed that business app store will be more popular among SMBs, which typically don’t have as strict IT requirements as large enterprises. The other advantage is its low risk high ROI proposition as such application services will be charged to businesses on usage based i.e. “On-Demand” pricing or fixed payment for each user.
In general, the Business mobility app store will appeal more to the small and medium businesses than the bigger organization. The horizontal solution will be more successful as it will see more users cutting across the verticals than domain specific solution which heavily depends on the backend applications at organization IT infrastructure.