Using Cross-Platform Development Tools To Save Money On Mobile App Development

August 06, 2020

By: John Tomblin, Senior Solutions Architect
Scottsdale Bizz, a division of Sofvue, LLC
Printed with permission of Data Titan, Sofvue LLC, and the author

Better, faster, cheaper. That is the mantra of today’s digital world, and for good reason, especially when it comes to mobile app development.

There is a lot of what is referred to as cross-development tools coming into the marketplace, all of them with the same general claim of “we can do it better, faster and cheaper” than their competitor, but what is cross-platform functionality and why does it even exist? If you need a mobile app for Android or an app for Apple, why not just build one for each? The short answer is the economies of scale. Today, most businesses want an app that can be downloaded from any of the large “app” platforms in the marketplace, and as of July 2020, there are three massively large mobile platforms, Android, Apple, and Microsoft. We have included Microsoft as a reference because just like Android’s (Google Play App Store), Apple’s (The App Store), Microsoft has its own app store (Microsoft Store), and according to Statistica, has 669,000 apps available for download. So, for most small businesses, providing their employees, customers, and users the ability to download an app using the platform of their choice (Android, Apple, or Microsoft) is not just a smart idea, it is required. So, for most small businesses, the goal is to provide an “app” that can be downloaded to just about any smart device, but in a way that is cost-effective, and that is what cross-platform development achieves; building apps that can be downloaded across any of the major platforms, cost-efficiently.

It does not make sense to build an app on Android, then build the exact same app on the Apple platform. It is already time-intensive to build an app, and that’s where cross-platform comes into play. Using cross-platform development, Scottsdale Bizz can take advantage of a shared codebase, allowing most (but not all) of the needed code for both platforms to be developed once, but shared equally across multiple platforms. Cross-platform development, simply put, allows a company to hire a software development firm to develop a solution that takes advantage of cross-platform development tools. Taking it one step further, it allows a software company to develop an app for two or three “app store” platforms and do so for less than it would cost to develop each of the solutions separately. As a simple example, if it costs $50,000 to build an Android App, and $50,000 to build an Apple App, but only $90,000 to build two apps using a cross-platform development tool, why would anyone agree to anything else?

At ScottsdaleBizz, we understand the importance of trimming costs without sacrificing quality wherever possible, so like many development firms, if we can pass these saving’s onto our clients, why wouldn’t we? Not only do we have a happier client in the end, but also a company that will come back to us repeatedly for updates, the feature adds, and general maintenance.

This article’s intent is not to cover all the different cross-platform development tools. There are too many, but here are some of the most popular tools used in the marketplace today.

Xamarin ( Available through Microsoft’s Visual Studio)
React Native ( Owned and made available through its parent company, Facebook)
Flutter ( Open-source development toolkit owned by Google)

Do you see the pattern? The “big 3” cross-platform tools are owned by three of the biggest companies on the planet. This should be all the evidence needed to realize the importance of mobile development and the explosive growth we will witness in smart-device technology over the coming decades. Add the G5 network, the new shift to even more remote work teams and the possibilities seem to be endless.

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