Why developing and distributing enterprise iOS apps is no easy feat
Developing enterprise mobile apps on Apple’s iOS platform is no easy feat, and though it may be the trendy thing to do currently, some businesses may wish to think twice about it. There are significant challenges involved with doing so, chief among them is how to distribute any in-house developed iOS app.
In fact, distribution is the biggest challenge with respect to iOS apps. When you build an iOS application and desire to distribute it without using iTunes, your company must join Apple’s iOS Developer Enterprise Program to procure an Enterprise Developer Certificate, which allows you to distribute the app only to your employees.
Apple allows businesses to develop iOS apps for internal use only and those apps cannot be used by individuals outside of your company. Otherwise your only recourse is to distribute your apps through iTunes. The Enterprise Developer Certificate is one of the ways Apple ensures controls are in place to restrict the distribution of any iOS app outside of iTunes.
Now contrast that with developing a browser-, an HTML 5- or Android-based app. With those platforms, there are far fewer restrictions and more flexibility. Going native gives you an excellent user experience for a particular platform, but the question becomes how does a native approach address the larger issue of supporting the broad mix of computing technologies used by the organization?
A web services/browser-based approach has been the primary method for businesses to provide cross-platform support for the line-of-business applications. In addition, one of the promises of HTML 5 is to provide a great user experience that can be leveraged across a variety of platforms, ie, develop once, deploy across all devices.
Even though iPhones and iPads are largely the No. 1 choice of business users to date, the organization still has to support the installed base of other computing technologies (laptops, desktops) and yes, even Android-based devices.
If yours is an all-Apple shop, then it may be sensible to develop and deploy your own iOS apps. But for businesses and the BYOD trend, the need to support all employees and their chosen device, and not just a segment thereof, comes squarely into focus.