Authentically Mobile Applications: An Update With Fresh Evidence

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Earlier this year, Peter Wagner and I published an article that looked at the opportunities for startups to create “authentically mobile” applications for business markets. We defined these as services that would be extremely difficult or impossible to deliver without taking full advantage of the unique properties of the mobile ecosystem. An app such as Uber is a great example of one that can be considered as authentically mobile: delivering it via a desktop would make no sense whatsoever.

In the article, we noted that some consumer applications, such as Dropbox, had already crossed over into the enterprise world. But we continue to see huge potential for startups to create authentically mobile applications specifically for business use.

Some recent news coverage suggests enterprises are eager to experiment with applications that have some, if not all, of the characteristics that we summarized in this chart. United Airlines, for example, is adding in-airport maps to its iOS app (and, in coming months, its Android one) to make it easier for customers to navigate major airports that the airline serves. Anyone in a rush who has tried to find their way around a cavernous hub by following physical signs and static maps will appreciate the benefits of such a service.

Travel is just of the areas that we identified as having considerable potential for more authentically mobile experiences. We also see great potential in the security realm too. Things such as fingerprint recognition on iPhones have highlighted the potential here. Mastercard is testing a smartphone application that uses facial-recognition technology to verify online purchases, and is also trying out fingerprint and voice-recognition technologies as part of its efforts to develop multi-factor authentication on mobile devices.

Both United’s and Mastercard’s efforts are focused on customer-facing services. As we move forward, there will be more applications with a full or partial claim to mobile authenticity that are developed for companies’ workforces as well. Reports that Apple is stepping up its efforts to sell iPads into enterprises via alliances with IBM and Cisco—and at the same time encouraging the development of new, business-focused apps—are yet another sign that the landscape for authentically mobile applications is looking more promising than ever.

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