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mobile device appsFew would dispute that mobile application development is a top concern for enterprises. According to the 2012 Gartner CIO Survey, 61% of respondents plan to enhance their mobility capability during the next three years, and 48% believe they will become leaders in their industries by fully adopting innovative mobility solutions. Gartner expects a quarter of enterprises to operate their own mobile enterprise application stores by 2017.

But while it’s clear that mobile enterprise application development is crucial, it’s less clear whether the best mobile enterprise application path is to create a mobile app from scratch, use an app that requires customization, or purchase an app from a commercial app store.

Fragmented Market Woes

ABI Research is projecting 56 billion smartphone apps plus 14 billion tablet app downloads in 2013.  You’d think that a volume like that would have commercial software developers rushing to deliver mobile enterprise applications. But they aren’t – in fact, it’s difficult to find commercial mobile apps aimed at the enterprise.

One reason may be the fact that global revenues for mobile apps only topped the $30 billion mark in the five years ending in 2012. That may sound like a lucrative market until you compare it to the volume of downloaded apps. If 2013 revenue equals the total five-year revenue that ABI reported, and every one of the 70 billion apps the company projects next year is a paid app – which is unlikely, since over 60% of all apps downloaded are currently free – then the average payment per app downloaded would be just 42 cents.  When was the last time you paid just 42 cents per user for an enterprise app?

Another reason that vendors aren’t flocking to the mobile enterprise application space is the continuing uncertainties in the market.  75% of the tablets used in business run on iOS, according to ABI.  Android tablets represent about 17% of the tablet market (excluding the Kindle Fire), Amazon tablets own about 4% of the market, and Windows tablets own 2% of the market.  Will that change between now at 2013? Gartner, Forrester, IDC, and other analyst firms have given different answers to that question, so it’s just not sure.

On the smartphone side of the equation, ABI says that Android accounts for 58% of the market, the iPhone for 33%, and Windows and BlackBerry trail with 4% and 3% of the market, respectively. It’s one of the reasons that Gartner predicts that by 2015, 80% of all mobile applications developed will be hybrid or mobile-Web-oriented.

The Appcelerator/IDC Mobile Enterprise Report for Q1 2013 is well worth a look for anyone interested in the subject of mobile enterprise application development.  Among the findings of note are these indicators that the potential for enterprise adoption of mobile apps has barely been scratched, with huge growth ahead.

  • 87% of enterprise respondents predict that 2013 will be the year when more mobile applications than new desktop applications will be developed.
  • None of the major traditional IT and software vendors are showing leadership in mobile – with Microsoft leading the pack according to 28.3% of respondents, followed by SAP (15.8%), Oracle (10.8%), IBM (7.3%) and HP (4.6%).
  • The majority of survey respondents (64%) predict that mobile development projects will move in-house, largely because commercial mobile app developers lack enterprise application experience.

Although 55% of the companies in the survey ranked mobility at the top or near the top of their priorities list, and 66% plan to deploy employee-facing mobile applications in 2013, 73% of the respondents have built fewer than five applications so far and 39% have built just one or none. The reasons for the gap between plans and reality may lie with the difficulty in recruiting and budgeting for developers with mobile experience, and the cost and complexity of developing, testing, deploying and managing mobile apps.

If you’re struggling with your own mobile application development conundrum, it may be the perfect time to talk to the experts at InfoVision about our Mobile App Development Team, strategic staffing solutions, or project management consulting and management.  A partner with experience, expertise, and a proven methodology may be able to turn the process of delivering a mobile enterprise application from daunting to doable faster and more cost effectively than you thought.


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