When it comes to building enterprise mobile applications, there’s the native approach, which counts on software being run on a particular device or class of devices, and the web-based approach, which results in software that will play nice with any device at all, as long as it’s running a supported browser.
There are a number of benefits to abstracting mobile applications from any particular hardware configuration or form factor and letting the browser take care of that for you. In fact, those benefits are the same as those of SaaS over on-premise software:
Web-based mobile software benefit #1: no software (at least on your end)
While there may be many thousands or millions of lines of software loaded on the server side, web-based applications require absolutely none on your side, apart from the browser that’s already installed. Software rollouts, upgrades, and maintenance? All someone else’s problem; just fire up your browser and you’ve always got the latest and greatest version — effortlessly, with a zero installed footprint.
Web-based mobile software benefit #2: accelerated evolution
In the native software world, new features often show up long past the time when they would have really conferred a competitive edge, if they show up at all. Because web-based software allows more rapid development, new customer-requested functionality shows up faster. In some cases, the gap between feature requests and implementation shrinks so much that the software begins to seem like a custom application, without the customization fees.
Web-based mobile software benefit #3: one codebase
Software that “just works” has a lot to do with an operating environment that’s a known quantity. In web-based software development, the operating environment is the browser, which abstracts the developer from many, if not all, of the nitty gritty OS and hardware details underneath it all. And because developers of web-based software are freed from the need to support myriad hardware/software variations, they can devote more of their resources to improving their mobile applications and serving the needs of their customers.