This past week I had some great conversations with developers at WWDC in San Francsico while waiting in line for sessions, between sessions, and at the various events. I met a few developers focused solely on iOS, but the majority I spoke with were with companies that are working to deliver their product value across multiple devices and form factors including Macs and iOS mobile devices. I talked to developers working on document management, wearable fitness devices, event ticketing, and more. We discussed different approaches, frameworks, languages, and business models. But the common denominator boiled down to the need and challenge to deliver their business to as many users as possible.
For the Windows developer, multi-device is both a business opportunity and a business necessity. Just five years ago a Windows only business strategy was still viable, but it was in the last days of dominating the single device era. In 2007 a trend was already underway toward a more diversified desktop landscape. While still a small percentage of the desktop market compared to Windows, Macs were back, and gaining in market share. Specifically, Macs for the first time were growing at a faster pace than Windows desktops. And importantly, Macs were becoming the device of choice with influencers, developers, and technical experts. This trend, along with the BYOD trend, started a significant shift toward allowing and supporting heterogeneous desktops in IT. This real world trend led to Forrester reversing its long standing position against Macs in the enterprise in late 2011 urging Enterprise IT organizations to start supporting Macs along with Windows PCs. But it was a flat glass multi-touch Internet device released by Apple in 2007 that cracked the single device world wide open - and it could make calls too.
For most developers up to 2007 supporting platforms other than Windows was a cost/benefit exercise that more than often didn’t add up and make business sense. If I had to double my upfront and ongoing R&D cost for a 10% growth in revenue, it just didn’t make sense. Fast forward to 2013 and it is a completely different world and model. Users are no longer using one device or platform. Users are now typically using multiple hardware and software platforms during the course of a day. Users expectations are now to be able to get updates, alerts, and notifications from their applications where ever they are and on which ever device they are in front of or carrying (and soon, wearing). The question is no longer "Can I cost justify the R&D expense?". It is now "How do we deliver our business value via apps to the devices our customers are using and maintain budgets and schedules that make sense for the business?".
Venture capital firm KPCB put out a chart late last year that visually, and dramatically, illustrates the shift from the single platform dominated landscape that started in the early 90’s to a rapidly re-emerging multi-device landscape that began in the last several years and continues to climb today.
While the desire to strengthen and grow an existing business with multi-device is attractive, some developers are still stalled by business risk. Some of the perceived risks include price dilution, cannibalization, and increased costs. R&D costs can be addressed with multi-device tools. Development tools from Embarcadero, for example, are designed to natively support multiple device platforms from a single development effort providing multi-device support for the similar cost as a single platform effort. Business changes can be addressed by viewing multi-device as an additive component to a successful business rather than a replacement. You don’t have to start over offering a 99 cent app in the App Store that dilutes your product value or cannibalizes your existing customer. Few successful app businesses today are truly based on 99 cent apps anyway. Instead, existing established software businesses, including Windows based businesses, have variety of business models to choose from when moving to multi-device that can be complimentary and enhance existing established businesses with new revenue and customers without dilution or cannibalization. Some of the more common multi-device business models for existing desktop software include Extension, Replication, Marketing, and Services models.
Extension model - Create mobile apps that extend the functionality of your desktop application, making the solution more versatile and adaptable. A dentist office solution for example, is typically a rich client Windows application with a display fixed near the patients chair to display patient records and X-rays. These are typically built in a client/server model often with a middleware server such as DataSnap. In the extension model, add an iPad app that connects to the data snap server enabling the staff to carry the patient information around the office. Tablets also tend to be less intimidating in stressful settings such as medical and dental offices. These apps do not have to have the full functionality of the main workstation. They give the staff flexibility and mobility, while creating a friendlier and more accessible environment for patients. The goal of extension is to build upon your existing success, creating a more compelling and competitive solution for your customers and market. The extension model is also one of the most cost effective to implement and can be rolled out quickly, particularly if you’ve built your existing solution with client/server middleware such as Embarcadero’s DataSnap. If your application is a pure two-tier client/server solution, then consider moving it to DataSnap and adding native mobile app clients and web clients with RADStudio XE4
Replication model - The goal of replication is to duplicate your Windows application functionality in a new form factor and device platform in order to a) reach new users and b) provide more convenience for your existing users by offering the same app on more devices they may be using. Replication strengthens the user base and creates stickiness for your applications. Replication typically requires rewriting your application with new tools, languages, and APIs for each target platform and can be the most costly multi-device model to implement. However, Embarcadero’s RADStudio XE4 enables existing Windows VCL applications to be migrated to the FM framework on Windows (aka Firemonkey) and then natively to new platforms such as Mac, iOS, and soon Android - making replication fast and cost effective compared to other approaches. One of the benefits of replication is taking your existing business and marketing it via app stores such as the iOS AppStore and the Mac AppStore. I spoke to two different well known companies at WWDC this week who are now seeing more traffic via their apps, than their website. Placing your application in AppStores makes it searchable and available to completely new audiences, where they are looking.
Marketing model – Marketing models leverage the mobile app to upsell additional capability or applications. The most popular marketing model is aimed to attract new customers with free or low cost functionality, and add additional capability via in app purchases. Mobile apps and app stores provide a great way to expose your application to completely new audiences, and with free and low cost versions of your application – and monetize via in-app purchases. The highest grossing apps today are free app with in-app purchases. The model works because the iOS AppStore is an incredible marketing machine. But the iOS AppStore doesn’t allow for trial downloads. Instead developers have found tremendous success with free downloads that provide a limited set of features or capacity – and upsell add’l capacity via the in-app purchase mechanism. Another marketing model that is starting to become popular among businesses with existing desktop apps is the free mobile to desktop approach. By giving away a specific feature set of the desktop version in a mobile app, the mobile app can upsell to the more powerful and feature rich desktop version.
Services model - Existing applications can be reworked to push their data into the cloud, and then shared among different device versions of your app. Amazon and Google provide cloud services that are easy to implement. But consider emerging REST based BAAS (back end as a service) platforms that currently offer a wider variety of app oriented value added hosted cloud services such as push notifications, user management, data storage, file storage, geolocation services (ie search and users near me). These platforms can enable you to expand your business with new revenue models such as subscription and service capacity. Some BAAS platforms to look at are Kinvey, App42, Stackmob, and Parse. Programmable Web has a useful list of 50 BAAS platforms http://blog.programmableweb.com/2012/10/17/50-backend-apis-cloudmine-mydigitalstructure-and-quickblox/
Today’s device choices of desktops, tablets, and phones will soon be rapidly expanding to include televisions, automobile, HUDs, wearable devices, game consoles, and more. And regardless of the business model you choose, today’s multi-device landscape provides Windows and desktop application developers with a far larger audience, better marketing methods, and new ways to monetize your business.
As a software developer or development organization, if you haven’t begun to move your business to a multi-device model, now is the time. You can get started by picking up Embarcadero’s Delphi XE4 or RADStudio XE4 line of development tools which support rapidly building apps for Windows, Mac, and iOS with a single code base and add Android when it becomes available. If you have existing Windows or Windows VCL applications Embarcadero’s XE4 line of tools will help you migrate them to a native multi-device strategy. Another great place to start is the free CodeRage Mobile online conference this week June 18-19 where you can learn how to kick start your multi-device application strategy today.C++Builder, Delphi | Comment now »
A new video posted from Daniel Magin of DeveloperExperts and an Embarcadero MVP demoing building an iOS Geolocation app with the Delphi iOS Beta. This week is also one of the best times to get Delphi or a Delphi upgrade, because there is an "early bird" 20% off promotion running on Delphi Enterprise and RADStudio editions when purchased with an update subscription (aka maintenance or software assurance). These are the editions that are planned to include iOS when it’s available. And with the RADStudio mobile roadmap and more platforms and frequent updates and upgrades on the horizon, this is certainly way I would recommend purchasing Delphi or RADStudio today. This particular promo is ending in just a few days on March 31. Getting Delphi or RADStudio today from an Embarcadero partner or eShop with an update subscription not only gets you 12mo of updates and major upgrades, but also access to the iOS beta today before it’s released, plus you’ll save 20% the 2012 pricing.Posted by Michael Swindell on March 27th, 2013 under C++Builder, Delphi, Uncategorized | Comment now »
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From LaKraven Studios, a mini 3D game on Mac built with Firemonkey. Look fwd to trying it on the iPad.Posted by Michael Swindell on March 8th, 2013 under C++Builder, Delphi | 3 Comments »
Update: Added AirPrint from Delphi iOS appUncategorized | 3 Comments »
Venturebeat has a good article on reasons why iOS apps get rejected by the Apple AppStore.
1. Use of the word “beta” or otherwise indicating that your app is unfinished
2. Long load times (must be less than 15sec)
3. Linking to outside payment schemes (must use Apple pmt models - iTunes and in-app pmt, etc)
4. Advertising Windows or Android versions of your app (in your iOS app or description)
5. Localization glitches
6. Improper use of storage and filesystems
7. If app crashes from users denying permissions to iOS apps/services like address book, photo gallery, location, etc
8. Improper use of iOS icons and buttons
9. Misuse of Apple trademarks and logos
Read the entire article at http://venturebeat.com/2013/02/08/9-surprising-reasons-mobile-apps-get-rejected-from-the-apple-app-storePosted by Michael Swindell on February 8th, 2013 under C++Builder, Delphi | Comment now »
Are your Windows applications ready? Microsoft is readying a $1.5b Windows 8 launch. Delphi XE3 and C++Builder XE3 quickly move existing Windows applications to Windows 8 and the new Metropolis Windows 8 UI Style - and XE3 upgraded applications continue to run on all Windows platforms from XP to 8 - with the new Metropolis Windows 8 UI.Posted by Michael Swindell on October 14th, 2012 under Uncategorized | Comment now »
One of the sweetest bonuses ever. TMS’s new cross-platform FM2 Grid is included in the XE3 Bonus Pack. The grid is one of many FM components included in TMS’s great TMS Pack for Firemonkey. But for a limited time, the Grid is included free with Delphi, C++Builder, and RADStudio XE3.Uncategorized | Comment now »
Delphi XE3 introduces a really welcome new feature, record helpers for simple types. The Road to Delphi has a great article exploring TStringHelper. Now you can add properties methods methods to simple types like string, integer, etc. This is one of my favorite new Delphi features and appears to be a pretty popular addition.Delphi | 11 Comments »
The Road to Delphi has a new set of articles exploring XE3’s Windows API additions