With enterprises under extreme pressure from management and employees to develop and deploy mobile applications to accommodate mobile work styles and increase customer engagement, research firm Gartner is predicting that more than 50 percent of mobile apps deployed by 2016 will be hybrid.
“Mobility has always been a separate topic for IT professionals, but it is now influencing mainstream strategies and tactics in the wider areas of technology enablement and enterprise architectures,” said Ken Dulaney, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner.
“Increasingly, enterprises are finding that they need to support multiple platforms, especially as the [bring your own device] BYOD trend gains momentum.”
To address the need for mobile applications, enterprises are looking to leverage applications across multiple platforms. The advantages of the hybrid architecture, which combines the portability of HTML5 Web apps with a native container that facilitates access to native device features, will appeal to many enterprises.
The need for context awareness in mobile applications has increased with the capabilities of mobile devices, causing developers to consider both hybrid and native architectures.
For applications to leverage location information, notification systems, mapping capabilities and even on-device hardware such as the camera, the applications need to be developed using either hybrid or native architectures. This has caused enterprise developers to consider alternatives to Web application development.
“Our advice would be to assume the enterprise will have to manage a large and diverse set of mobile applications that will span all major architectures,” said Van Baker, research vice president at Gartner.
“Enterprises should consider how applications can be enriched or improved by the addition of native device capabilities and evaluate development frameworks that offer the ability to develop native, hybrid and Web applications using the same code base. Where possible, development activities should be consolidated via cross-platform frameworks.”
Gartner outlined two additional key predictions around mobility and the enterprise:
By 2014, Apple will be as accepted by enterprise IT as Microsoft is today.
“Although Apple’s mobile iPhone and iPads are already as accepted by enterprise IT as is Microsoft, Apple’s Mac systems for laptops/notebooks and desktops remain not commonly accepted by IT,” said David Mitchell Smith, vice president and Gartner Fellow.
“Going forward, Apple will continue to benefit from consumerization and will continue to evolve Macs to take on more iOS characteristics, which will contribute to acceptance of Macs in the enterprise. As such, enterprise acceptance of Apple will continue to be driven by consumer demand.”
Microsoft’s mobile offerings ? Windows Phone and Windows 8 ? are new, but will continue to achieve some acceptance from enterprises, largely due to the relationship that Microsoft has built with them and the management capabilities they provide.
However, unlike Apple, Microsoft’s offerings have not benefited from consumerization, which is driven first by consumer demand, and then by the demand of those consumers to bring that technology into the workplace.
As a result of this shifting landscape, Gartner said enterprises should plan for continued consumerization and for the fact that Apple will continue to be a significant beneficiary.
By 2013, the first $50 smartphone will appear in emerging countries.
New entrants in the smartphone market, including Chinese brands and white-box handset makers, have served to drive down the cost curve.
Differing use cases between consumers in the emerging market and those in developed countries have enabled the reduction or elimination of certain costly features while advances in chipset integration have enabled semiconductor companies to address the growing low-cost smartphone market.
“The combination of competitive pricing pressure, open-channel market growth and feature elimination/integration will very soon result in the $50 smartphone. Semiconductor vendors that serve the mobile handset market must have a product strategy to address the low-cost smartphone platform, with $50 as a target in 2013,” said Mark Hung, research director at Gartner.
“Global, brand-name smartphone vendors must re-examine their product lineups to determine how their low-end offerings are differentiated from the competitive products offered by low-cost vendors. Otherwise, brand-name smartphone vendors may want to cede this market to the white-box vendors and focus on high-end devices.”