The mobile and wireless industry is entering an exciting time. Demand for mobile technology is growing at a tremendous rate. Corporations are deploying mobile applications that provide substantial business benefits, and consumers are readily adopting mobile data applications. Exciting new mobile devices are constantly being introduced, and wireless networks are providing access to data from almost anywhere. In short, mobile and wireless technology has matured to the point where it is ready for wide-scale adoption.
Actually, mobile applications have been successfully deployed for many years, but these have been largely the effort of early adopters, who have gained a clear competitive advantage by implementing a mobile solution. Wide-scale deployment of mobile and wireless applications is just starting to take place. Corporations are just beginning to realize the benefits that mobility provides. Oddly enough, many of the advancements are taking place in the enterprise market, contrary to early industry hype, which was largely focused on consumers. There are both business and technical reasons why this is taking place.
Return on investment (ROI) has become an important figure for determining whether to implement a mobile solution. It is pretty simple really. If a company can foresee a reasonable return on its investment, it can justify building the application. If it cannot, then the application will have to wait. It is much easier to determine the ROI for internal business applications than it is for consumer applications, so they get implemented first. On the technical side, corporations have much more control over the technology being used, so they can build applications that require specific hardware, software, or network connectivity. This allows them to deploy a variety of application types that can run in either online or offline modes. There is no such control over the consumer market, often limiting the type of applications that can be deployed.
Before we get into the technical aspects of building mobile applications and discussing the various application architectures, we are going to look at some of the business issues surrounding the mobile industry. This chapter provides information on mobile and wireless from a less technical perspective. It focuses on the issues around implementing a mobile solution, including the business benefits and expected challenges, as well as the main mobility enablers.