Back in August, after the release of the company's Android app, I spoke with GetGlue CEO Alex Iskold about how his startup prepared itself for making the move to mobile. The app first launched on the Web, and thus the company's developers were most familiar with languages native to the Web. In order to transition to mobile, Iskold and GetGlue employed the services of Appcelerator's Titanium - a tool that simplifies native mobile app development for developers. Today I had the chance to chat with Appcelerator's Scott Schwarzhoff about how young companies can plan ahead for their development strategy by anticipating the three phases of app maturity.

"You can have a lot of things pop up in the form of new APIs, new capabilities and new platforms. You need to stay ahead of the curve."
- Scott Schwarzhoff
In the last year, the venture-backed Mountain View-based company has quickly grown to support over 64,000 developers and thousands of mobile apps across several platforms. The company's flagship offering, Titanium, allows developers familiar with Web languages to quickly piece together mobile applications with native platform functionality.

Companies of all sizes, from startups like GetGlue to large corporations like eBay and NBC, have built consumer and enterprise level applications using the service. As Schwarzhoff points out, every company needs to plan ahead for mobile development.

"It's important to have a really well thought-out development plan across all platforms that can sustain in the long term," Schwarzhoff told ReadWriteWeb. "You can have a lot of things pop up in the form of new APIs, new capabilities and new platforms. You need to stay ahead of the curve."

One of the best ways company looking to expand into mobility can roadmap their products is to understand what Appcelerator calls the "application maturity model," which consists of three distinct phases.

  • The Information Phase - The first step for many companies, says Schwarzhoff, is to dip their toes into the mobile sector with basic read-only apps that provide one-way information to the user. It's in this phase that many first timers build familiarity with the platform, its capabilities and possible business models.
  • The Participatory Phase - In this second phase, apps begin to allow for two-way communication, pushing and pulling information between the device and the cloud. Companies begin to realize the potential of the platform and its native functions, like location, photos and social networking.
  • The Business Operations Phase - In the third phase, a company finally begins to use their apps as a new way to drive revenue and loyalty from their customers. It's not just a side project, says Schwarzhoff, now it's a critical part of the the overall strategy.

Schwarzhoff adds that companies don't just pass through these phases with their apps, but with platforms as well. As companies enter the mobile scene on one device, like the iPad, they then get increasing curious about other form-factors.

Whatever your startup does, or intends to do, mobility should play an important role in the overall business strategy. Planning your mobile roadmap early and understanding the phases of app maturity will go a long way to help this facet of your business grow quickly and smoothly.