What platforms should healthcare app developers support?
While participating in the “What is Mobile Health?” Linkedin discussion that I mentioned a few days ago, an Australian app developer asked me the following question, sensing that I might have a helpful perspective. Because my response might also help Modern Health Talk readers, I’ll include both his question and my reply here.
Can I ask what mobile phone you currently have and use? Do you have an iPad? The reason I ask is I find it interesting to appreciate the technology individuals use and the effects it has on the opportunities we see to advance healthcare.
@David, I have an Apple iPhone3, and both my wife and son (in Dallas) have an iPhone4s so they can use FaceTime video conferencing and we see our year-old granddaughter. On the tablet side, I have my wife’s old iPad after getting her an iPad2 to resolve conflicts over who gets to use it. BTW, she completely quit using her PC after getting the first iPad.
For perspective, I’m a die-hard PC guy but with no love of Microsoft. My main PC is a high-end quadcore desktop PC from Dell. I also have three notebook PCs collecting dust, and my PC experience goes back to my days as an IBM systems engineer & marketer when I helped introduce IBM’s first PCs into enterprise markets and then moved to Austin to support a failed effort to take the OS/2 operating system into the home. I worked at Dell for 2 years as worldwide messaging manager for consumer desktop PCs after retiring from IBM.
So, why would someone who’s squarely in the PC domain have iPhones & iPads? Because they’re that easy, useful and popular. Yes, they carry a premium price, but apparently cost is not an issue even for people with low income since ABI Research just reported that “Apple (51%) and Samsung (24%) Dominate India’s Tablet Market, Despite Low-Cost Options.”
I find the OS wars between iOS & Android entertaining, especially in the mHealth space. Apple has been way ahead in accessibility features, although Android is catching up. Windows, Blackberry and Symbian are non-starters in my book. Android’s biggest strength is its Open Source architecture, which attracts geeks who like to tinker, but that’s also Android’s biggest problem since there are so many different flavors on phones with slightly different features to differentiate themselves. That also means there’s no practical way for ISVs to test their apps on all of them, or even half of them. They just test on phones with the largest market share, and I see that as a problem.
A partial solution is to develop using cross-platform standards and tools such as HTML5, but supporting unique device features still requires special code. With all of that said, if I were consulting with a mHealth developer, I’d only feel comfortable recommending Apple. It’s by far the best solution for the masses.
OK, Now’s your chance to share your own favorites and tell us why, with a reply below.