Are mobile apps cluttering our networks and attention spans?

The booming app culture -- which encourages a new generation of Micro-ISVs to build standardized, tested services that can be plugged into enterprise operations everywhere -- is something to be applauded, but it also poses a potential burden as well.

Are mobile apps cluttering our networks and our attention spans?

That's the question asked by Aaron Weiss in a new post at the Enterprise Efficiency community. He observes that with the rise of apps for iOS and Android, to the point that "the whole app-centric culture is reducing efficiency and adding costs to software development while offering questionable benefit."

Weiss raises an issue we've posed on this Website previously as well: Apps, in a way, represent a step backward, away from the run-everything-anywhere agility of the Web to more proprietary OSes and devices. Why divide developers' limited time and resources to all these different app OSes, when a single Web interface would suffice?  Weiss's take:

"A large category of apps can be described as vessels that simply reformat content from the Web. Smartphones and tablets benefit from simpler layouts, but the technology already exists to deliver this directly from the Web. Mobile Websites are nothing new. There is no need for an “app” that is simply a shell to deliver Web content. In fact, many of these narrow-purpose apps can and should be Web-based applications (particularly built on HTML5) delivered through the browser."

While the booming app culture is something to be applauded -- it encourages a new generation of Micro-ISVs to build standardized, tested services that can be plugged into enterprise operations everywhere -- it also poses a potential burden as well.

As Weiss puts it, the proliferation of apps "means duplicating functionality that may already exist on Websites and redeveloping it for multiple platforms. Sure, iOS may be the dominant platform, but if you ignore Android (and maybe even Windows 8 mobile), potential customers are being missed." Add to that the challenges of inconsistent versioning for software running on smartphones.

Apps built on HTML5 can be used on all modern platforms without the extra development costs, he notes. Plus, this is the ideal of cloud -- "all users are always on the latest version, which reduces support demands."