The Market Is

By Evan Schuman  |  Posted 2006-03-30 Print this article Print

Now Ready for Mobile Apps"> Gerry Purdy, principal wireless analyst at MobileTrax, said Intercontinental is on the cutting edge of smart phone content development but that most companies will soon have to experience the same thought transition. "The enterprise today is just starting to realize that the mobile devices are an asset to put into play," Purdy said. "Intercontinental has already found out the problems with driving an app the old way."
The problem is that some execs think of a smart mobile device as a little computer, with its miniature screen and miniature keyboard. In reality, its size and capabilities prompt users to deal with the device much differently, forcing developers to write for the devices much differently.
"Its not so much whether the GUI changes, but How do I do it cost effectively for the organization?" he said. "Its not like were going to update that SAP app or that data warehouse project. I dont have any history so how am I going to do it effectively?" Purdy said, quoting a hypothetical IT exec. Why all the lies about cell phones? Click here to read more. "There simply arent a lot of vertical market applications" for cell phones today, outside of field sales. Purdy agrees with Ross that this year is when mobile technology, and its users, have grown enough to make the transition practical. "Youve really got a sort of lining up of the stars of corporate" for the next-generation of mobile applications, Purdy said. "The improved CPU processing, larger screen sizes, the social mentality in the form of better consumer acceptance and better toolkits, in the form of middleware and application development resources, application sets and defined segments, such as reservation systems." The last hurdle is getting corporate IT and marketing execs to start thinking of the mobile device as its own media. "For years, the mentality has been, How do we extend these desktop apps to mobile? Were going to mobile the desktop app, theyd say," Purdy said. "They were trying to extend something that had been built for a very different environment. Mobile users expect a different kind of experience in mobile than when they sit down in front of a desktop. You dont think in terms of complete forms. You fill out a field and then interact with the system. Some of the database structures may not change on the backend, but how the information is handled must. Were now going through a discovery timeframe." Intercontinentals Ross wont specify the amount of development dollars the company is saving, other than to say "we have experienced a very nice cost savings" because he argues that "this really is about savings" as much as its about efficiencies. "The flexibility to modify and extend the application has been expanded significantly today," he said. "We probably did this latest retooling—literally this entire migration project—with about a tenth of the effort." Mobile applications arent that difficult to do properly, assuming theres a focus on the user and the device they are likely on. "This all works provided you have your backend, your core application built right," he said, adding that his team figured out the magic way to make that happen: "This time, we did it in-house." Retail Center Editor Evan Schuman can be reached at Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, reviews and analysis on mobile and wireless computing.

Evan Schuman is the editor of's Retail industry center. He has covered retail technology issues since 1988 for Ziff-Davis, CMP Media, IDG, Penton, Lebhar-Friedman, VNU, BusinessWeek, Business 2.0 and United Press International, among others. He can be reached by e-mail at

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