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!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

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

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?