PLEASE NOTE: I am using the terms that not an industry standard. Due to the range and unknowns of the knowledge of my blog audience - I want to use simpler ways of describing the item. Forgive me in advance, if someone thinks that it is too "watered" down.
Now lets talk about the competitive differences of different apps out there. I can brake them into two major categories: sever based (web based) and device based (localized). My app ExpenseOnTheGo was developed to be "device based" or localized.
The difference between those categories is fairly simple - one (server based) will use the server to authenticate (confirm your identity) and download parameters of use. The other will do the same based on your entitelments (rights) secured on your device. It sounds simple, but don't be fooled it creates a cascading effect on how the app operates.
Lets start with the major functions, in my opinion - I am also including the "benefit" analysis of each item.
1. "Server Based" requires a connection to the network (cell or Wi-Fi). Why is this a big one - imagine you are at lunch and your table is in the back of this beautiful former industrial warehouse or you are in this gorgeous mediaeval themed room in the basement (like so many New York places area) and there is NO reception! What do you do? Well the only choice is to take the receipt, leave your guests and find a spot with reception. The "device based" doesn't have that problem - so it's a better choice in this case.
2. "Server Based" can replicate your databases across various devices and you can access them across various devices. This feature will not be available on "device based". Well you could technically backup on one device and copy the backup to the other one, bit it will not be "real time". So this one will go to "Server Based", although I would argue that you will most likely never use multiple devices to record expenses - most likely it will be only one.
3. "Server Based" requires the security on the server and someone CONSTANTLY maintaining and reviewing it. How many times have you heard about the security breaches on the news? I am not saying that all of the apps out there are "security adverse", but it should be on your mind. For "device based" you are the person responsible for security of the device, aka don't loose it! So I'd say the "device based" is better.
4. "Server based" also requires someone to always perform the "backup" for you and ensure that it doesn't disappear. And then the question appears - "Who actually owns the records - you? Company providing the service?" How many times did you read the fine print for each site? What if they disappear, get acquired or worst yet disappear. What do you do then? Imagine you need access to your documents and there is no company to go to. I would imagine conversation with the auditor will not be very fruitful. On the "device based" version you perform your own backup and keep it safe, as you would any document.
5. "Server Based" has an ability to change your entitlements or ways to access an app "on a fly"- that could be to increase the functionality and in some cases decrease it as well. That can also allow developer to give some sort of "coupons" or "discounts" or otherwise incentives to sign up - all because the control the "switch". "Device Based" version doesn't have that flexibility, because each version need to be submitted, review and approved by Apple, so it makes it prohibitive. So I guess this one goes to "web based", however I would argue that it is suited or benefiting more the developer (seller) rather than the consumer.