Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Android Opens up the Apps Market for Business

Google’s Android has raised the benchmark for business apps. There’s a lot of good logic in turning the phone into a working business tool, and most people now use their phones as a reflex action in business, calling up data and trying to stay functional while multi-skilling their way through a day’s work. Commercially, the apps have direct practical uses. If you’re a computer repairs business, for example, it’s a good move to have a working app that can be used to drum up business for you and also create accounts and manage operational issues as well.
The evolution of business apps has been if anything a rather slow process. Simple organizer-type apps have been around for quite a while, but actually useful apps are something else. Data management apps are now hitting the Android, and they’re finally looking like useful business processes.
Android, being an open source platform, is also a very good positioning strategy for the new apps. Android already has over 100,000 apps, not quite in the same league as the iPhone, but catching up rapidly, and definitely likely to produce quite a few essential generic forms of apps for business.

Business apps- Issues and emerging capabilities
Business apps, to be effective, need to be able to actually do business. At the moment, that’s a limiting factor. The business phone is to some extent still an accessory, and unlike a browser, has only a certain amount of functionality. You can only do so much on a phone, compared to a PC or laptop.
That’s now changing, as things like Dropbox and spreadsheet apps come onto Android. Modern business is to some extent defined by data handling, and these essential basic apps are now looking like the beginning of a major move in that direction. What appears to be happening is that a lot more grunt power is showing up in apps, meaning the phones are now able to do more themselves, without having to be hooked up to anything else.
Ubiquitous computing and Android
There’s another potential area of development- A longstanding design concept called “ubiquitous computing”, which literally means that computer power and functions are available anywhere. This is the computer industry’s archetypal Utopia, in which instant access to computer functions is accessible in any environment. Interestingly, Android is showing a few signs of that sort of capability.
For business purposes, the primary requirements for apps are:
·        Instant access
·        High functionality across a bandwidth of business needs
·        Reliability
·        Security
·        Information backup
Android can cover all of these things, simply by being an open source platform. Business security could be a basic or even multi-tiered SSL system, and information backup could go through dedicated servers or cloud storage.
Result, not only “ubiquitous computing” but also multiple methods of doing business securely. Phone maintenance may become a lot more like computer support, but business phones could have instant functions in multiple contexts, not acting like phones, but as interfaces with systems.
Don’t be surprised if the phone you’re using five years from now is an all-purpose business tool, able to do your bank reconciliations, review contracts and maybe even sign them for you with an encrypted signature.

Author Bio: Malcolm Bill is an Australian freelance writer and journalist. He writes extensively in Australia, Canada, Europe, and the US. He’s published more than 500 articles about various topics, including computer support.