Deciding between packaged applications and custom applications is never easy. Each option has its share of advantages and disadvantages, and the decision rests largely on the nature and needs of the company itself as well as the clients they serve. However, understanding the benefits and drawbacks of these two very different options helps make the decision much easier.
Benefits of Packaged Mobile Apps
Perhaps the most notable benefit of packaged apps is that they can are less expensive than developing custom code. Customers receive a great deal of functionality directly out of the box, and " if the customer does not customize the package code extensively" then he can pay for regular upgrades as time goes on, which is a less expensive way of staying state of the art. Conversely, packaged apps do offer the potential for more customizability than most customers are aware of, meaning they can respond to changing needs at a later time via code that is much more friendly to general use than the more specific code of custom apps.
Benefits of Custom Mobile Apps
The chief benefit of custom apps is right there in the name: their customizability. You can design code that does exactly what you need exactly how you need it to. And custom code environments are able to partially cut costs because of both the "bare bones" nature of most custom code and the fact it does not require potentially costly licensing fees. Keep in mind that you need to maintain a custom app so there are fees associated with that. In choosing between the two options of packaged and custom apps, it is important to decide which one will result in a lower cost for your ongoing support of that product.
Both packaged and custom apps have their drawbacks, of course. Packaged apps, by their very nature, have a general appeal, meaning that companies with highly specific needs will not get what they need out of such programs. And those who use packaged apps are beholden to the technology vendor: if the vendor discontinues support or veers future research and development in a direction incompatible with the company who purchased the software, that company is simply out of luck.
Custom apps, meanwhile, may suffer from the fact that development teams must accurately predict the future: they must predict and respond to the needs of the following year, and there's always a chance they will be wrong. Furthermore, one of the strengths of custom apps--that they are not bogged down by extra bells and whistles—which may end up being an Achilles heel. This is because a need may arise for the "extra" features the team committed, and developing and integrating these changes will all contribute to the overall cost, negating the previous advantage of not having to pay for such features. Not sure about this paragraph.
Hopefully, knowledge of the benefits and drawbacks of these options has removed some of the confusion regarding your decision. However, it's understandable if you have difficulty picking a clear and precise "winner." Ultimately, the real answer as to which is better is that it depends on the company. If the company's needs are relatively straightforward and they do not mind primarily using the software to automate "less unique" processes, packaged software is the way to go. If the company has highly specialized needs or primarily needs to automate unique and critical processes, then customized apps are the right choice to make.