The Rule of Three for Enterprise Mobile Apps

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So you’ve come to the conclusion that you need mobile apps for your company (or someone else has decided that for you, and its now up to you to implement). You know that apps can create a more robust user experience for your customers and improve the productivity of your employees, and you’re excited about the idea of mobilizing your business. You’ve taken the first big step, on your mobile journey and now all you need to do is figure out what’s the best way to start building.  

You’re making a wise decision; mobile technology in the enterprise has grown by leaps and bounds over the last few years, for someone who has been in this industry as long I have been, it has never been this much fun. In our Appcelerator Q1 2013 Mobile Enterprise Report, enterprise leaders we surveyed said mobile innovation is critical because of its significant effect on:

  • Customer and employee relationships
  • The enterprise’s ability to compete
  • Top line revenue growth
  • Bottom line asset efficiency

It is smart business to invest in mobile strategy, but what’s the best way to get started? When you first begin mobile app development for your company, you have the option of choosing one of two directions:  

1. You can build a custom “one-off” native or mobile web application, each time you need a new app or update your current ones


2. You can make a strategic investment in a mobile platform that will allow you to build multiple apps, across many operating systems and app architectures (mobile web, native, etc.) and re-use components across all of those apps

The first approach requires less of an initial investment and commitment, but it is problematic if you want to create more than one app or make updates in the future. The second approach needs more time and funding to get started, but it is often a more affordable long-term strategy. Which is right for your enterprise?  

This is a common dilemma many business and IT leaders face. To make a tough decision easier, I developed what I call the Rule of Three when I was a mobile analyst at Gartner, and I’ve revised and honed it here at Appcelerator.  


The Rule of Three  

You should choose Option #2, investing in an infrastructure-based, strategic approach, if:  

  • You are going to build three or more applications 


  • You are targeting three or more device classes or operating systems 


  • You are going to be making three or more updates to an app in the course of a year


Benefits of Employing the Rule of Three
The Rule of Three is a long-term strategy that results in lasting benefits:  

  • You do all the hard work up front. Yes, you must first make an initial investment to purchase and learn new software and methodologies, but this effort will save you time and money in the long run. You create a single code base with reusable frameworks and widgets, so you can build countless mobile apps without reinventing each component/framework each time, across all of the operating systems and architectures you require.
  • You deliver consistency. When your mobile app development takes place on a standardized platform, you are able to make changes to apps or backend data services that reflect across all devices and operating systems at once. Instead of having to make a change to an iOS app, and then separately make the same change to an Android app, you can do everything at once. This is simpler and more cost-effective for your business.

We employ the Rule of Three constantly with our clients, and they continue to see the benefits in action. For example, when we built a mobile app for NBC, it was targeted to four different devices – Android tablets, iOS tablets, iPhones and Android smartphones – and required multiple updates each year. NBC took the recommendations of the Rule of Three and opted for this infrastructure-based approach. Building the app for multiple devices on the Appcelerator Titanium platform resulted in: faster update cycles, cross-platform efficiency, scalable development and huge overall cost savings.  

At Appcelerator, we believe in creating a mobile strategy that will contribute to your company’s success now and far in the future. We work with you to identify your specific goals and priorities, then help you choose a course of action that ensures you will get the most out of your time and investment. The Rule of Three is just one of our many tried-and-true strategies; are you ready to find out more?

Contact us and see what we can do for your business.

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  1. I agree with you over perspectives on mobile application development business strategy of #THE RULE OF THREE. Making note of these valid points suggested by you for the entrepreneurs who are in to the mobile applications development path is massively useful. Worthy statement on consistent delivery of apps that suit all mobile platforms which are cost-effective and well time managed. However, I would like to ask you why Titanium is the only way to get through this? Suggest me your views.

  2. @Sienna Titanium ain’t the only way to get through multiple app development but it’s not on Titanium’s blog and moreover from their staff that you will ear other solutions


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