Three years ago, Apple's iTunes App Store launched, and the mobile landscape was turned on its head. Mobile applications had long been available for handhelds, but Apple centralized their location, made purchase and installation dead simple, and most importantly created a culture around the use of "apps." First time smartphone users who used to ask "How do I setup email on this thing?" were now asking "What apps should I get?"
While the consumer market boomed, the Enterprise waited patiently. This was partly due to concerns that apps were just a "fad," but mainly in anticipation of one platform becoming dominant. In the nineties, web applications set the standard for universal accessibility, and now the mobile generation threatened that with significant fragmentation.
So now, as the Enterprise has no choice but to get involved in mobile development, the question remains: Is it possible to develop once, and deploy to all platforms? The answer is yes, and we'll investigate the three cross-platform frameworks that have the most industry traction.
Rhodes by Rhomobile
All three of the discussed frameworks have their merits, and all have proven to be successful in their own right. PhoneGap is the most approachable and compatible solution; Appcelerator's Titanium generates truly dynamic mobile applications, but at the cost of total cross platform compatibility; while Rhomobile's Rhodes generates native applications on all major platforms, provides Enterprise integration, but also comes with the steepest learning curve. So, which is the best solution for you? The answer really depends on the nature of the application, and also, whether a native application is needed at all. The mobile web doesn't benefit from the visibility and marketability of an app store, but it's always the easiest solution to implement and is completely cross platform by nature.
So the bad news is that much like the current mobile landscape, the world of cross platform mobile application frameworks is rapidly changing, and without a true industry standard in place. Luckily, there's some good news as well. The current cross platform leaders are proven, reliable, and offer tremendous value to developers and Enterprises alike looking to finally take the mobile plunge.