Telstra’s chief technology officer, Dr Hugh Bradlow, has issued a warning to IT departments country-wide: be wary of standardising on the iPhone as Android is the future of the smartphone.
Speaking at an Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA) roundtable on mobility in the financial services sector, Bradlow said that while the iPhone was a “great device”, it was not the only device.
“The fact is that Android [based handsets] are now outselling the iPhone – there are actually more Android devices in the market than there are iPhones in the market. It is equally capable,” he said. “More importantly it is an open eco-system, so it is being adopted by many manufacturers.
“What you will see over the next year is a huge drop in the cost of these devices, so you will see the smartphone penetration in places like Australia going up to 50 per cent of the market, and that will really transform [the market].”
Bradlow said the implication of this was that organisations which currently produced applications for the iPhone, for example around financial services, would need to also include Android-based apps.
“At the moment Apple’s penetration [of the iPhone] is roughly 10 per cent, yet everybody thinks in terms of [the iPhone],” he said. “I’ve had the discussion with my bank – why don’t they have an Android app? They have an Apple application…”
While this may suit consumers, the impact on developers and application providers was that that coding applications across multiple platforms would raise development costs, The Buzz Insurance leader IT, Ian Frew, said.
“The issues is that we now have Android, Apple through the iPhone and now potentially a third operating system [Nokia or Windows 7 Mobile],” he said. “To utilise all the benefits of those operating systems your application needs to understand [those operating systems] so your cost of ownership goes up.”
Commonwealth Bank of Australia general manager online banking, Drew Unsworth, said there was a “gold rush” occurring in mobile application development.
“The ease with which you can actually create an app, put it out there, get feedback from customers, improve it and put it out there again is totally different to how it has occurred before,” he said.
National Australia Bank general manager online banking, Chris Smith, added that much like Apple’s App Store prompted a wave of innovation in application design, the rise of Android would see innovation move to the development of financial services-based applications.
Telstra's Bradlow added that the primary value in a mobile application in the financial services sector was timely access to data.
"That to me is the biggest power of the mobile channel -- it can deliver things to me, right now, that are important, like what the average price of a house in the street [I am in]," he said.