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In Defense of Mobile SDKs: Buy vs. Build

A software development kit is a set of tools designed to help organizations build new functionality into their applications. For such a simple concept, however, the mobile SDK has earned itself a mixed reputation. On the one hand, developers like many of the features a mobile SDK can enable. On the other hand, some are wary of the possible unintended consequences that may result from introducing new software into their mobile apps.

The debate boils down this: companies have to weigh the pros and cons for each individual mobile SDK. Some are worthwhile. Others aren’t.

As companies review their own relevant considerations, however, the one strategy that doesn’t make sense is a blanket dismissal of all mobile SDKs. This is the software equivalent of re-inventing the wheel over and over again. That’s a short-sighted approach, and it will end up hurting businesses rather than helping.

Here’s why mobile SDKs continue to merit deliberation and deployment:

For Mobile Apps, Speed is of the Essence

Research shows that consumers want new features in their mobile apps, and that they’re willing to spend time and attention on the companies that can deliver them. The app update cycle is accelerating and SDKs can streamline the process of getting new app features out the door. The alternative is to risk losing customers to competitive brands with richer apps.

If You Don’t Buy, You Have to Build

For companies committed to the mobile app channel, the options are to rely on a third party to develop new features and functions, or to build out new updates in house. Sometimes it makes sense to invest the resources in custom development, but frequently it’s far more efficient to take advantage of work that others have already done. There’s not only the issue of creating a new feature for the first time, but also of innovating, improving, and maintaining functionality over time.

Development resources are finite and are usually best spent focusing on things that are unique and core to your business. Operational infrastructure is complex and expensive – it’s almost always cheaper and easier to leverage the investments of third-party mobile SDK providers rather than replicating these investments in hardware, processes, and people.

A Single Mobile SDK Can Simplify and Solve Many Problems

Consolidating functionality in one SDK can reduce risk and complexity. For example, Artisan’s single platform-based mobile SDK can simplify numerous app management processes including ongoing usage analysis, optimization, and content targeting. Each of these processes is valuable on its own, and eliminating the need to manage the dependencies and interactions between these areas can save companies both time and money.

No SDK solves every problem, but an SDK that provides an extensible software platform can address multiple needs at once. Rather than looking at point solutions, mobile app providers should be evaluating SDKs that offer greater room for growth.

Bottom line: Don’t avoid mobile SDKs. Instead, choose the select few that will help you build a solid foundation for future app development.

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