Mobile Computing: There Doesn't Have to be an App for That?
Insurance Experts' Forum, January 5, 2010
I ran across an interesting post by Jeff Goldberg over at Celent, predicting the eventual demise of special apps for mobile smartphones. That's right—demise. This is definitely going against the conventional wisdom of the iPhone era, in which an entire industry has sprung up around the provisioning of apps for Apple's phones, as well as Blackberries, Droids and other devices.
This won't last forever, Goldberg says. Smartphones won't stay self-contained devices running their own applications. Just as the PC has evolved into a utilitarian front-end for accessing online applications, smartphones will evolve into cheap, multi-purpose platforms that pull all necessary functions from the Web. These will be the same applications being accessed by PCs, by the way.
So, the bottom line is that insurance companies will be employing their existing Web application platforms for all manner of devices—from PCs to laptops to kiosks to smartphones. As Goldberg puts it: “Instead of worrying about maintaining new channels, insurers will be able to focus on their existing platforms with Web-based interfaces.”
This has important implications for the industry, which increasingly has been automating its field force of claims adjusters and agents, who are being outfitted with portable devices. Wireless-enabled laptops access the exact same applications as an on-site LAN-connected desktop PC. This will soon be the case with smartphones as well. Goldberg says this is likely to take the form of a mobile Web, but insurers will still only need to build once to deploy many times.
Joe McKendrick is an author, consultant, blogger and frequent INN contributor specializing in information technology.
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