What is the difference between product development, application development, and software development in IT?

What is the difference between product development, application development, and software development in IT?

In current times, the dependence on software has reached its maximum.

People are highly reliant on the software for a variety of purposes like entertainment, finance, banking, health, etc. To meet this demand, software development services keep on bringing intuitive and robust software. 

Most of the typical software products are generally standard applications that are utilized by multiple customers. They actually need to solve the overall demands of different customers, and we need the software to adapt to particularly specific customer requirements, not just now but also in the future. Also, if the software is completely successful, a software development partner has to work with the pre-existing code for the upcoming future. Hence, when it comes to development in IT, there are different types that can be followed to build different types of software. 

Now, let’s investigate the various aspects of product development as we go through the difference between product development, application development and software development in IT. So, here is what product development looks like

Product Development

It consists of the following aspects which are duly explained below and will shed light on the entirety of product development.

1. Process of Requirement Analysis

The entire process of requirement analysis of the development of product offers complex challenges for developers. First, the developers need to understand the overall requirements of a target audience or group of customers. Second, they need to identify which particular requirements can be the same for all of the customers and which have to be different. Also, the common requirements describe the main required features of the entire product, and the different ones actually show us where the product actually has to be customizable. The entire analysis process generally takes more time and often needs a lot of experience as well as well-rounded and in-depth domain knowledge. 

Generally, there are two distinct ways to gain the required domain knowledge and also to identify the product requirements. 

a. Option A- Implementing multiple projects first and then collecting the product requirements which are based on these different projects as a vital second step. Also, the success of this entire approach actually depends majorly on the total number of projects. As more projects the developers have worked on, the better is their knowledge regarding the domain as well as the customer requirements. 

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b. Option B- The developer has to start from scratch and then try to collect and collate the requirements without any type of project experience in the specific domain. The developers can do this by simply analyzing competitors and by performing a requirements analysis with a very small group of key users. It should be noted that this process is riskier than the previous approach as the developers most likely won’t have a sample of customers broad enough to get a better overview of the requirements of the entire customer group.

From what we have witnessed above, the entire requirement analysis process is certainly quite complex, and it is essentially very crucial for the success of the product. It is an essential part of SaaS application development. Hence, we require more time and ensure that we have sufficient domain knowledge in order to identify the most vital customer requirements. Generally, it is useful to start with an early product version and then extend it on the basis of customer feedback.

2.Quality of Code

The entire importance of the code quality actually depends on how long the developers need to support the entire code base and on how often they have to extend or even adapt the applications. This particular connection is what actually makes the entire code quality quite important for products while much less important in the case of projects. It is evident that a product requires to be maintained for a long time or years and we would probably want finally change it over time to keep it up with the competition. If the developers don’t care about the code quality right from the beginning, the customers will pay for it with every possible change in the future. This holds quite true for mobile application development as mobile apps need to be updated with the latest version to keep up with the competition.

3. Choice of Technology

One of the huge drawbacks of product development when it comes down to technology choices that the developers have to stick with them for quite a long time. 

The custom web development services need to be quite careful to make the correct decisions as well as choose technologies that we can utilize to fulfill the current as well as potential future needs and requirements. Every choice made, whether in development style or in case of technology choice, leads to the creation of legacy code which the companies need to support and fit all of their technology choices in the future. Generally, replacing older technology with a newer one is quite costly, in terms of money, time, etc. which makes it quite impossible for the developers to convince the management in order to do it. Hence, it is better to take care of the issues before evaluating technologies and choosing something which you are most likely to keep for a long time. It does seem easier said than done, but you should use your gut feeling when it comes to this.

4. Adaptability

It is quite important for the product to be adaptable because it has to be able to easily adapt to the needs and requirements of the different users. It can be achieved by simply making the parts of the entire logic configurable or even by implementing a separate plugin mechanism. For instance, in the case of Eclipse IDE and its entire plugin marketplace. As a result, it is utilized by different developers, and each one of these developers has its own custom configuration along with a set of plugins for adapting the entire IDE to their own specific needs.

However, the problem is that both of these options increase the entire complexity of the system and even need an additional amount of time in order to implement as well as test. It is a critical factor required to ensure the entire long-term success of the product. Hence, you need to make sure that you identify the much-needed configuration as well as customization options during the entire requirement analysis and then invest the additional time in order to implement them.

5. Pricing

Generally, you can calculate the price of the product based on the value which it offers to its customers and the total amount of money they are willing actually to pay for it. Hence, this price is certainly much lower than the development costs, but since the software need to be sold millions of time, this isn’t a really big problem as we don’t actually have to find just one customer to pay for the entire cost. 

Application Development

Essentially an application is a collection of different programs that satisfied particularly specific requirements of the users to resolve certain problems. Also, the solution could easily reside on any particular platform or even a collection of platforms, from the operating system or hardware point of view.

Application Development Life Cycle

As with most of the other operating systems, application development is majorly composed of the different phases, which are:

a. Design phase.

b. Requirements Gathering

1. User, software and hardware requirements

2. Performance analysis

3. Development of the design in different iterations

High-level Design

As well as 

Detailed Design

4. Handing over the design to the application programmers

c. Coding and testing the application.

d. Performing user tests.

Application’s user tests are done for functionality as well as usability.

1. Performing system tests

Performing integration test

Performing performance of volume test utilizing production data.

2. Going into production with a handoff to the operations.

3. All documentation is ensured that they are in the right place, like operation procedures, user training.

4. Maintenance Phase where ongoing daily changes and enhancement to the application are made.

1. Design Phase

The design phase starts after all the requirements are gathered, analyzed as well as verified. Then the design is produced, and the developers are ready to pass on the entire programming requirements to the respective application programmers of the Android app development company in case the application is an Android app. 

2. Development Phase

The application programmers take the entire design documents which contain programming requirements and then they proceed with the entire iterative process of coding, testing along revising as well as testing again.

3. Testing

Once the programs are tested by the application programmers, they will be essentially a part of a series of different formal users as well as system tests. Then, they are utilized to verify the functionality and usability from a user’s point of view along with to verify the application’s functions within a much larger framework.

4. Production

The penultimate phase of the application development life cycle is to move to production and then become a steady state. Forgoing to production, the prerequisite is that the development team requires to offer documentation. It mainly contains user training as well as operational procedures. Also, user training easily familiarizes users with the latest application. In case of the documentation of the operational procedures, it enables Operations to easily take over the responsibility to run the application on a regular and ongoing basis.

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During production, the enhancements and changes are handled by a group that performs the maintenance. During this point of application’s lifecycle, changes are tightly controlled as well as the need to be rigorously tested too before being implemented into the production.

Software Development

Essentially, the software development process or the life cycle is a structure imposed on the entire development of a software product. It has several models for this process that describe approaches to a wide range of tasks or different activities that take place during this process.

The Processes

A lot of software development services implement different process methodologies. The various activities involved in software development are:

1. Requirement Analysis

Extraction of the requirements of the software product desired is the first activity in creating it. Most of the customers believe that they have the knowledge that the software has to do and it may need skill as well as experience in software development and engineering to know ambiguous, incomplete and contradictory requirements or needs.

2. Specification

It is the task of describing the software to be developed, in a precise manner, in a mathematically rigorous method or way. In actual practice, the most successful specifications are often written to easily understand as well as fine-tune applications that were already developed, even though safety-critical software products are generally carefully specified before application development. In terms of external interfaces that must remain stable, specifications are most important.

3. Software Architecture

The entire architecture of a software product refers to a complete abstract representation of that system or product. It is concerned with ensuring the software product will meet all of the requirements of the product along with making use that future requirements can easily be addressed too.

4. Implementation

It is important to reduce a design to code which is the most obvious part of the entire software development, nut it isn’t necessarily the biggest portion.

5. Testing

It is important for testing parts of the entire software, especially where coding is done by two different software developers who must work together, and this is done by a software engineer or a software development partner.

6. Documentation

It is an important task as documentation of the internal design of the entire software is required for the purpose of future enhancement and maintenance. 

7. Support and Training

A large part of software projects fails because the software developers actually fail to realize that it doesn’t actually matter how much time as well as planning the software development teams of custom web development services puts into creating different software if nobody in these companies ends up actually utilizing it.

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Also, people are occasionally resistant to any type of change and try to avoid venturing into uncharted territory or unfamiliar area, hence as a section of deployment phase, it is quite important to have different training classes for the most confident and enthusiastic software users, then shift the training towards the actual neutral users who are intermixed with various avid users and supporters and then finally incorporate the rest of the entire organization into adopting the latest software essentially. The questions of users in this phase lead to the next phase.

8. Maintenance

Enhancement and maintenance of the software to cope with various newly found problems or the latest requirements can take a lot of time than that initial software development time. It is quite necessary to add code which doesn’t fit the original software design but also to determine how the software actually works at some point once it is completed which requires significant efforts by the software developer. Most of the software engineering work falls into maintenance. A small part of that deals with fixing bugs. Also, most of the maintenance is essentially extending the systems to do new tasks.


Whether it is IT products, applications or software, people are now dependent on them for a variety of purposes. Just to understand this, mobile application development has been booming as people depend on mobile apps for entertainment, booking cab, ordering food, financial transactions, banking, gaming, etc. Similarly, software products are now a mainstay of people’s lives where they utilize them for documentation, financial management, designing, entertainment and much more.

However, product development is different from both application development and software development. There are various phases of product development like the choice of technology which segregates it from the other development processes. However, requirement analysis, designing, development, testing, documentation, and maintenance along with support are some of the aspects which all have in common.

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However, the process of these phases is different in approach for each of the development practices. For instance, requirement analysis in product development requires studying multiple products of the competitors and a select group of users for determining the possible requirements or researching through multiple previous projects done by the developers and collate information to create the requirements.

Along with this, training is an essential part of software development which differs from both product and application development. Iterative processes for SaaS application development are similar to iterative processes to build software. 

All these above-mentioned features of the product development, application development, as well as software development, shed light on the key differences among them. For instance, an Android app development company should know the difference between application development from the rest of the two. Understanding these differences can help a software development company to choose the right process when developing a product, application or software.

This detailed difference study between the three distinct development processes in IT can also help in choosing the best possible process as per the requirements of the customers since a customer may require an app or software for a particular purpose. Hence, knowing the above-mentioned differences between product development, application development and software development in IT can streamline the development process of the required product or app or software. 


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