Mobile applications can be divided into three categories: horizontal, vertical, and custom. Horizontal applications can be used by most users, and are not usually industry- or role-specific. They include the typical consumer applications of email, unified messaging (for example, single-point access to email, FAX, and voice mail), personal information management (PIM), and instant messaging. Horizontal applications that are specific to the enterprise include document and desktop viewing, collaborative scheduling, and timesheet entry. Because horizontal applications have a wide audience, they are often available as out-of-the-box solutions from wireless carriers or device makers.
Vertical applications are specific to a given role or industry. Examples include sales force automation, mobile customer relationship management, and field service applications. Out-of-the-box vertical applications are becoming more common, and these are often available as hosted solutions from a mobile application service provider.
Custom applications are those developed for a specific company, either by in-house or consultant-delivered development. Vertical applications may begin life as custom apps, which are then generalized to an industry or role. Examples of custom application include medical records access and property damage assessment solutions. In later articles, we will look at real-world examples of these application categories, focusing on commercially available solutions