Do you need specialized tools like Kony, Antenna, Netbiscuits, and Appcelerator for mobile delivery?

  • 9-Aug-2012

When creating mobile versions of your web properties, you'll face a key decision of whether to employ your existing site management platform (e.g., WCXM or Portal) or deploy a specialized mobile delivery tool from vendors such as Antenna Software, RhoMobile, Netbiscuits, Kony, or one of the many others.

After all, if your incumbent WCXM platform does a good job of separating content from presentation, doesn't it become simply a question of creating new, mobile-specific template, to display the same content in mobile-friendly way?

Unfortunately, this approach actually takes you only so far.  Let's review some typical follow-on steps.

What if you want to now create a separate site for different types of handsets?
Just create a separate template in your WCXM tool (creating and managing new templates is simple, isn't it?) or use some HTML5 magic along with progressive/responsive design principles.  You will run into some hurdles here with most WCXM and Portal solutions.

How do you identify different types of mobile devices?
Well, in theory a simple script can do the work for you. And when a new mobile handset gets released, you just add it to your script manually. And if an existing mobile device changes its browser version, you can manually update that too.  So now you're in the business of regularly keeping track of all user agents.

Then how do you map features and content to device?
Once you've identified a device type, you'll want to adapt your content based on device capabilities and limitations. You could manage these device capabilities -- such as Device A has a camera but no GPS, Device B has GPS and accelerometer and so forth -- in a local database. And then you'd regularly update this database as and when new devices get launched or new capabilities introduced.

I could go on and on but you get the idea. Your incumbent web delivery platform will work for very simplistic mobile scenarios. As you increase the complexity -- in terms of devices, operating systems, capabilities and sites -- this fails to become a scalable model, and you should start considering specialized tools.

These mobile delivery tools certainly vary in approach and footprint.  But in general they try to abstract complexity and simplify the management mobile-specific dimensions, e.g., new templates, device adaptation, maintaining a device capability database, providing integration with location based services (LBS), integration with billing systems, asset encoding for mobile devices, and many other capabilities that you don't usually find in your existing WCXM and Portal tools.

And I haven't even mentioned mobile apps yet, but that's a completely different blog post.

For our Portal and WCXM stream subscribers, we'll provide a more detailed guidance about this topic, and explore key issues you need to consider when selecting these tools, in a forthcoming advisory paper.

Our customers say...

"The Web CMS Research is excellent! Very well written, and you've done a masterful job distinguishing otherwise look-alike vendors!"

Peter Morville, Consultant, Guru Author, Information Architecture for the World Wide Web

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