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Mobile apps are going hybrid, says Gartner

Marking the launch of Gartner’s ‘Mobile and Wireless Predictions’ for 2013, the research firm says that the influence of the enterprise will play a major role in the coming year. With enterprises coming under pressure to develop and deploy mobile apps to accommodate changing mobile work styles and increase customer engagement, Gartner believes that a hybrid approach will be best. Ken Dulaney, VP and distinguished analyst at Gartner, predicts 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. Increasingly, enterprises are finding that they need to support multiple platforms, especially as the BYOD trend gains momentum.”

He adds that 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. This is supported by the increasing reliance for context awareness in mobile apps (location, mapping, notifications etc), causing developers to consider both hybrid and native architectures rather than Web app development.

Van Baker, research VP at Gartner, adds that his 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:

“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 also believes that Apple will increase its presence in the enterprise sector during the year, and that by 2014 Apple will be as accepted by enterprise IT as Microsoft is today. David Mitchell Smith, VP and Gartner Fellow, said that whilst Apple’s iPhone and iPads are already accepted by enterprise IT, its Mac lineup is not commonly accepted:

“Going forward, Apple will continue to benefit from consumerisation 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.”

In contrast, Microsoft’s mobile offerings have not benefited from this consumerisation, which is driven first by consumer demand, and then by those consumers to bring that technology into the workplace.

Finally, Gartner turns its attentions to the fabled $50 smartphone. Research director Mark Hung says that the combination of competitive pricing pressure, open-channel market growth and feature elimination/integration will result in the $50 smartphone appearing in emerging nations later in 2013:

“Global, brand-name smartphone vendors must re-examine their product line-ups 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.”

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