Publishers Can Make First iPad or Mobile Application Successful by Looking at Legacy Issues First

Apr 22, 2010
Oshyn Labs

by Scott Friedland, Chief Innovation & Strategy, Oshyn, Inc

The sales records of mobile devices like the new iPad have raised the level of urgency for many companies seeking to create mobile applications. A client recently asked me if they could downsize the scope of work on their iPhone and iPad apps to meet the CEO’s mandate to make the “deadline”. How often does cutting corners work? Like many publishers developing mobile applications, this client is faced with navigating legacy back-end technology issues before they can successfully deploy the mobile application.


Building a mobile application is not the most difficult part of the development process – that’s why there are so many “mobile app developers”. We’ve all seen what happens when Bob’s Uncle learns Dreamweaver and proclaims himself a “web designer” – sure it has some basic web functionality – but it’s nothing that can scale for big business. The most important and most difficult part of mobile application development is in understanding of the usability the potential customer seeks for the mobile application; and understanding how the data will be served up should be the top priority. If we keep building on platforms that are not friendly for APIs to be utilized we cannot create a top-performing mobile application. If you want your mobile application to be successful (and of course you do) it may be time to step up and make the required conversions now in your back-end legacy systems and CMS. We can always create “work arounds” and patches to help us make the mobile application work, but over time it will surely breakdown.

If you are considering a mobile application that focuses on content — and the potential for a paid subscription model or a lead generation device that leads a potential customer to the “purchase button” — you want the mobile application user’s experience to be easy, and the download of content optimized.

Publishing companies are really good at what they do. End-to-end technology companies and mobile application developers are really good at what they do. If you’re serious about developing a great mobile application, take the time to look at the legacy issues now so you can build for scalability and a great user experience – and work with a technology partner to build the mobile application. Your in-house IT department probably shouldn’t be left to figure out how to build a mobile application for you – but they should work closely with your technology partner to understand long and short term goals.

Once the back-end legacy system and CMS issues are resolved, we are ready to go; we can drill down into the delivery of the mobile application and manage the expectation from a user experience.

The next major step in mobile application development is marketing your app which I will cover in the next post.