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RIM, iOS, Android: Which App Platform Should Enterprise Mobile Developers Choose?

One thing that struck me while listening to an SAP webinar on our new mobile HR apps (registration required) was how many of the apps still ran on BlackBerries.For sure, all six of the apps run iOS.

One thing that struck me while listening to an SAP webinar on our new mobile HR apps (registration required) was how many of the apps still ran on BlackBerries.

For sure, all six of the apps run iOS. But three of them also run on RIM phones.

Surprising? Take this recent article at SAP.info about 5 mobile apps delivered by SAP partners:

iPad - 2

BlackBerry - 1

Windows Mobile - 2(!)

Presumably, SAP, and especially these ISVs, have a good sense of what devices their potential customers are using today.

But the presumed demand on BlackBerry OS and Windows Mobile devices is a little surprising, considering that both are declining with consumers.

Indeed, both are soon to be phased out by their makers in favor of successor OSes: BBX for RIM (which combines BlackBerry OS with its recently-acquired QNX) and Windows Phone 7 for Microsoft.

What's also surprising is the lack of use of Android devices for business today - at least among SAP-using companies.

Intrigued, I put out a call to mobile enterprise developers on Twitter: Which OSes are you building for today? Here are some of the responses I got:

"At a personal level, iOS and Android. As a developer I'm not wasting time with Blackberry at a personal level. However...at the corporate level, if targeting managers, we have both iOS and Blackberry users. Cannot ignore Blackberry yet. But numbers are declining." - John Moy, an SAP Mentor in Australia and developer with a large postal organization.

"Most companies acknowledge that investing in BB apps is not prudent. It's an IT checkbox. The demand is for iPhone, Android, iPad...We do have a native BB app that's rarely purchased. Most enterprises address BB coverage with our HTML5 app...Definitely wait and see on BBX. iOS5 sold 4 million devices in one weekend, that's far more interesting." - Pankaj Prasad, business development at DoubleDutch.Me, mobile enterprise app maker.

"Many (are) still stuck on BB - still viable, but progress must come quickly. Many large orgs (incl. mine) still don't support Android...Speaking with devs, Android is difficult (putting it mildly) to support across devices. Consistent experience is key...With every day that goes by, Apple is more entrenched. BBX needs a hook, eg: built-in MDM - without this, not much of a shot IMHO (in my humble opinion)." - David Hull, SAP Mentor and SAP infrastructure lead for the Walt Disney Company.

"We are seeing a lot of demand for iOS and Android enterprise app dev, but very little demand for BB." - Nathan Clevenger, chief software architect for mobile apps developer, ITR Mobility.

“Device diversity within the enterprise is expected and required by employees —especially as related to Android. The sophistication of Android devices, mixed with our large community of enterprise open source developers, drove our need to provide native Android support for BIRT [Business Intelligence and Reporting Tools]." - Nobby Akiha, Senior Vice-President of Marketing for BI vendor, Actuate Corporation. Actuate offers apps for BlackBerry, iPhone and Android.

"I think RIM platform is not viable for Enterprise Mobility looking forward - nor is Android ... the future belongs to iOS and Windows Phone...WinPhone is immature; but Microsoft is the only one left that might compete." - Bill Gravelle, independent mobile developer focused on the IBM i server platform.


What mobile platforms are you or your developers building for today?