Economy likely to stall new enterprise mobile apps

Executives in the mobile industry said that the economic downturn will probably make mobile developers less likely to target enterprise users.

The economic downturn will probably slow down the development of new mobile enterprise applications, even as changes in the mobile industry are making it easier for developers, said executives at a mobile conference in Seattle on Monday.

Even though the struggling economy will likely slow down the use of mobile-phone services, application developers are still more likely to target consumers than businesses, they said.

"I don't think people will spend more money on phones, I don't think they'll buy more games," said Tom Huseby, managing partner of SeaPoint Ventures, speaking during the keynote presentation at Mobile Northwest, a small conference primarily for mobile startup companies in the Pacific Northwest.

But even if people don't buy new phones or games, they are unlikely to fully get rid of their phones. "We're fortunate to be in an industry during this time where consumers will continue to have a 'share of wallet' for wireless," said Venetia Espinoza, director of mobile applications and partner programs at T-Mobile, by which she means that people will make sure they budget for their phones. She recently spent a day working in a T-Mobile retail store, where she heard customers say that they were more likely to cut their landline phones or even cable TV before getting rid of their cell phones.

While the same is likely true for enterprises--businesses probably aren't going to cut off their budgets for mobile phones--they won't likely expand the use of mobile phones through new applications.

While social-networking applications, for example, lend themselves quite well to business users, it's more difficult to approach businesses compared to consumers, said Peter Claasen, vice president of business development at Ontela, a company that lets users automatically upload photos from their phones to a Web site. "We don't target the enterprise, but we've thought about it a lot and I think it's ripe," he said. However, offering service to consumers through an operator has the potential to address far more users than approaching individual enterprises, he said. That makes the enterprise market a lower priority.

Huseby agreed that startup companies have found it difficult to approach IT or telecom groups within enterprises. "In general I don't find the value proposition that can break down those barriers fast enough. It's very hard for startups," he said. Larger IT vendors like Microsoft, Oracle or SAP have better luck because they can sell wireless products as a value add in addition to other contracts they might have with an enterprise, he said.

Business applications typically have to address data security issues and so may not be able to take advantage of a new trend in mobile application development that is helping the consumer application developers, despite the economic downturn. Historically, only a very small percentage of phone users ever downloaded new applications to their phones. That meant application developers would have to work through an often-painful process of trying to convince mobile operators to load their applications on phones before they hit the market.

That changed with the iPhone and its App Store, where users of the phone can find and download applications. "Everyone is going to have an App Store," said Brent Brookler, CEO of Treemo, a social network that lets people share videos and photos on their mobile phones. He noted that Google's Android phones will connect to a market for applications and BlackBerry has announced plans to launch an application store. "The traffic we're seeing through this distribution is really pretty amazing," he said of Treemo's experience over the past month after offering its application through the iPhone App store.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags economy

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Nancy Gohring

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?