When Steve Jobs introduced a metal cased, chocolate bar sized phone in 2007 with the words “This will change everything”, majority of the world wasn’t convinced. The world started getting used to an idea of a phone which could do much more than it was traditionally expected to. The world got its first smartphone and the rest, as they say, is history.
Smartphone became the fastest selling gadget ever, making their not so older cousins (the feature phone) look like stone-age devices. Mobile companies the world over wasted no time in jumping on the smartphone bandwagon. Such was the disruption of a smartphone that the leading mobile phone manufacturers the world over had no choice but to embrace the smartphone era by adding it to their product portfolio. As per data from International Data Corporation, in the time you read this introduction, over 1,000 smartphones have already been shipped!
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Present decade has witnessed a revolution in smartphone penetration to an extent that they are out-selling the Personal Computer four to one. To state the obvious, it created an entirely new product category and a number of new companies were born. At present, developed as well as developing countries are as hungry as ever to get more and more of these little computers and customers have a wide spectrum of prices and features to choose from.To put things in perspective, market research company emarketer estimates that the number of smartphone users will surpass 2 billion in 2016 – that is more than a quarter of world’s population.
Though the innovation of smartphone is widely perceived as a disruption for mobile phone manufacturing industry, its ripples have been felt across sectors. Ever expanding data usage through smartphones and tablets was a happy coincidence which has permanently changed the way customers interact with businesses. The old fashioned way of browser based interaction is being rapidly overtaken by dedicated mobile applications.
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Here we explore the reasons behind the huge acceptability of mobile applications and the popular platforms available to developers to develop them. Later we focus on the first smartphone Operation System, iOS, and how SWIFT programming provides an integrated development environment for developers and why it presents a rewarding career option.
Mobile Applications mean Business
Mobile applications are here to stay and they literally mean business. We are living in a decade where businesses around the world are both expanding and converging like never before. Dotcom and ecommerce boom has allowed businesses to target customers across geographies. For example, a tech enthusiast in India can today order a gadget on Google’s Play Store and get it delivered to his home – all without ever visiting any store or contacting any representative. Contrary to the popular perception that a dedicated mobile application is only for the big players like Amazon, Bank of America or Walmart, a number of small and medium businesses have realized that an effective mobile strategy is an effective way to grow their business.
Businesses world over have realized that in this environment, getting a dedicated mobile application developed presents numerous benefits such as:
Easy access – Customers today are becoming impatient and demanding every day. They no longer want to search for your business website, spend time filtering results and finally land on your home page. Instead, a mobile application saves them the time and effort by providing a one touch solution.
Deeper customer engagement – When a customer browses through a mobile application, you have an opportunity to showcase your business as you want. Once you have a customer looking at your application, you have complete control of the environment he is in, without having to worry about irritating issues like browser compatibility, pop up blockers, adding/updating flash players and add-ins, etc. This allows you to focus solely on customer experience which is likely to yield better results.
Opens up another direct channel–Mobile applications have overturned the traditional model where a consumer had to walk up to a store for engaging with business. Apps save the customers the time and effort and open up a fast, direct and inexpensive channel to engage with business. They present all desired information to a customer at his fingertips. Additional features such as push notifications and alerts allow you to pop customized alerts to the customers – creating an additional marketing and sales channel.
Differentiate yourself from competition – Mobile application development is still catching up with small and medium businesses. While they spend time crunching numbers on their spreadsheets and doing a cost – benefit analysis, you have the opportunity to reach to the customers faster. It shows you are really serious towards your business (and customers) and do not want to let go of any opportunity to engage with them.
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What makes iOS click?
Smartphones the world over are dominated by four standard operation systems – Android, iOS, Windows and Blackberry. Given Blackberry’s troubles and the less than expected sales of Windows, Android and iOS are the two prominent players in the mobile OS market. Before we dig out the numbers related to Apple sales, let us get the context. Unlike the developing countries, U.S is a quality sensitive market rather than a price sensitive one. What this means is – a majority of customers in U.S. would happily pay for a superior product. As per a comScore report - it states that as of July 2014, 42.4% of smartphone customers in The States were Apple customers. Further analysis reveals that Apple’s market share was more than that of next three manufacturers (Samsung, LG and Motorola) put together.
Though Android still enjoys the top spot when it comes to smartphone OS platforms, an interesting trend is that Android’s 51.5% share had dwindled by 100 percentage points since April 2014. On the other hand, iOS (Apple) managed to gain by the same margin, standing at 42.4% as of June 2014. These figures suggest that iOS has significant market penetration despite costing more than comparable smartphones running on Android platform. This can be further extrapolated to conclude that a customer on iOS is more likely to spend on data plans and hence, is easy to attract to a mobile application developed exclusively for your business.
Swift – the iOS platform driver
It has been just over a year since Apple announced its new programming language, i.e. SWIFT, in June 2014. It has been developed exclusively for its own ecosystem of devices, i.e. smartphones, tablets, personal computers and watches. One of the biggest advantages for a swift developer is that he does not need to learn separate languages to develop applications for iOS, OS X and watchOS. The developers used to working with Objective – C would find it easy to work with swift, as it provides a seamless integration with C. Swift code is short, concise, interactive and fun which facilitates the development of lightning fast apps .
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Some of the salient features of SWIFT are:
1.Easy to learn for most developers, as it still uses Objective – C as its base.
2.Introduction of “the playground” – where developers can cross check the visual output of their code snippets instantly rather than having to go through the tedious process of compiling the code and viewing it on a separate device.
3.Building 3D components into an app is easier than ever before which opens the window to a world of innovative opportunities for developers. So, as a developer you can now let your imagination run wild - whether you are developing that adrenaline pumping racing game or are looking to provide 3D views of products from your e-commerce websites.
4.One app for all Apple devices – In the past, a developer would develop an app specifically for the iPhone or iPad. Doing an application for both platforms essentially meant re-writing the code from scratch. Swift takes care of this problem – which allows you to save costs and efforts significantly.
5.Early mover advantage – As SWIFT is just a year old, it is natural for developers to have apprehensions about its future adoption. But there are the opportunities. After all, it took C (and its other versions) years of evolution to reach where it has today. If that day is coming in the future for iOS, you would not want to miss the bus as a developer, would you?
It’s still early days for us to come out with numbers related to SWIFT’s adoption in the developer community. However, what we are sure of is that Apple is very serious about pushing it through in future. Keep in touch with SWIFT related updates on our blog.