It's a post-PC world, and mobile development is the name of the game. According to a report from Appcelerator and IDC, businesses and developers are racing to define a winning mobile strategy, while keeping an eye on platforms and business models.
The first-quarter report, garnered from a survey of 2,235 Appcelerator Titanium developers, shows that while the iPhone and iPad are still the leaders of the pack, Android smartphones and tablets are gaining large amounts of developer interest. Google has nearly caught up to Apple in smartphones and is closing the gap on tablets.
The report also shows that for enterprises the days of mobile app exploration are drawing to a close and companies are moving, or have moved, into an acceleration phase, with an eye toward greater innovation. This year, developers and businesses expect to triple their app development efforts, and the average developer is now building for four different devices.
In addition, there is a dramatic increase in the integration of geo-location, social, and cloud connectivity services, along with increased plans to integrate advertising and in-app purchase business models.
With the growth in the market, Appcelerator and IDC have developed a "Mobile Maturity Model" to describe the three phases of mobility adoption -- exploration, acceleration, and innovation.
Last year, most respondents (44 percent) said they were in the exploration phase of their mobile strategy. A simple app or two -- typically on iPhone -- and a focus on free brand-affinity apps was standard practice. This year, 55 percent of respondents said they are now shifting into the ‘acceleration’ phase.
Summary of findings
Other findings from the report:
- On average, each respondent said they plan to develop 6.5 apps this year, up 183 percent over last year.
- Businesses are increasingly taking a multi-platform approach. On average, respondents said they plan to deploy apps on at least four different devices (iPhone, iPad, Android Phone, Android Tablet) this year, up two-fold over 2010.
- Ubiquitous cloud-connectivity: 87 percent of developers said their apps will connect to a public or private cloud this year, up from only 64 percent deploying cloud-connected apps last year.
- Always connected, personal, and contextual: in addition to cloud services, integration of social and location services will explode in 2011 and will define the majority of mobile experiences this year. Interest in commerce apps is also on the rise, with PayPal beating Apple as the most preferred method for payments.
- Business models are evolving along with these more engaging mobile app experiences. Developers are shifting away from free brand affinity apps and becoming less reliant on 99-cent app sales. Increasingly, the focus is on user engagement models such as in-app purchasing and advertising, with mobile commerce on the horizon.
- Outsource goes in-house: the enterprise takes control of its mobile destiny. 81 percent of respondents said they insource their development, with the majority saying they have an integrated in-house web and mobile team.
A mobile strategy
What do Appcelerator and IDC recommend for business trying to develop a mobile strategy? It's a four pronged approach:
- Platforms: Cross-platform is mandatory, as is deploying to multiple form factors like tablets. In the third innovation phase, a business is thinking about possibilities across all major platforms and devices.
- Customer: This perspective considers the shift away from simple content-based apps that inform or entertain to more complex and engaging applications that make use of location, social, and cloud services to transactional applications such as mobile commerce. As the customer experience evolves, so does application sophistication, customer expectations, business transformation opportunities, and the underlying business models. Free branded apps and a reliance on purely app store sales give way to advertising, in-application purchasing, and mobile commerce.
- People: There is an increasing shift from outsourcing to in-house development. What starts as a tactical outsourcing of development “to get an app done fast” quickly turns into a more strategic discussion around competitive advantage, control over a sustainable long-term mobile strategy, and rapid time-to-market considerations.
- Technology: In order to meet the demand for more apps, new devices, frequent updates, and deeper customer engagement, a business needs to drive down costs, time-to-market, and complexity by developing and leveraging reusable components. Ultimately, this results in the need for a cross-platform, fully integrated mobile architecture that spans a company’s entire app portfolio.
A copy of the full report is available from the Appcelerator site.
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