Sunday, 5 April 2009

To iPhone app or not to iPhone app

Saw a really good demonstration on Friday of an iPhone application designed for students. It pulls data from corporate systems and directories and puts them together into a neat view. So, you can look up staff and student profiles and click on phone numbers and emails to call or mail them, look at a map of the campus and know where you and your friends are, look at timetables, exam results, campus news and announcements and check your library account and renew or reserve books.

They're looking for Universities to take it up, and the company does all of the integration - all we have to do is show them where the data is and pay them money - and at the moment it's quite reasonable. Looks great. But - how does it fit with our strategy of making everything available to any device? Should we be providing applications for proprietary products - even ones as great as the iPhone? Apparently Apple have about 11% of the mobile phone market, but about 20% of students have an iPhone or iPod touch. Is that enought to provide a service just for them? Should we provide it, and charge for it? The company we're talking to say they're going to port it soon to other platforms including Android and Symbian which might influence our decision.

Any views? I'm tempted to go with it, and hope that it does get ported to other devices. Or I suppose we could approach Apple and see if we can get them to give an iPhone to all of our new students...


pj said...

20% at the University of Glamorgan apparently - perhaps they are rich there...

pj said...

...and if it is 20% what about the other 20,000 students?

Mike Nolan said...

I would say that developing a mobile website would be better.

* may already have in house developers with necessary skills
* wider range of platforms
* systems may already have mobile interfaces which you can integrate (e.g. webmail)
* faster to develop new functionality
* can push out to users by SMS-ing a link - no download required
* new functionality/bug fixes can be deployed instantly without need to upgrade

Markuos said...

Spotted this one: 'Duke U. Unveils Application Suite for iPhone' from March.