Thursday, December 9, 2010

5 Key Trends in Mobile Usage and Development

Eileen Boerger
President, Agilis Solutions

Recently I participated on a panel at the SIIA “All About Mobile” conference. The conference covered topics such as the explosion of mobile devices in the Enterprise, developing mobile applications, marketing and monetizing mobile applications, and the debate over mobile native apps vs mobile web apps.

The panel I was on discussed the state of the technology and benefits of developing mobile web apps. I’ll just state that I could argue (and have fun arguing) either side of the native apps vs web apps debate, but I was happy to talk about mobile web apps. I truly believe that the technology (mainly HTML5) for developing robust and highly-functional mobile web apps using multi-media has finally arrived. If you don’t believe me, go check out the You Tube mobile web app on your smartphone or iPad.

I found the information shared at this conference quite informative so I thought I would share the key trends that I noted.
  1. The use of mobile devices in the Enterprise this year has exploded. One company surveyed Enterprises in January, 2010 and September, 2010 asking the number of mobile OS’s they officially supported. I was surprised to see that in January a small percentage of the Enterprises supported no mobile OS’s, but by September, the Enterprises all supported at least 1 mobile OS. More astonishing was the number of Enterprises surveyed that supported 4 or more mobile OS’s in September – a whopping 44%. I believe that % at least doubled from the January survey.
  2. Enterprises are not only allowing but encouraging their employees to use their personal mobile devices for work tasks. In fact, it was reported that a Fortune 100 company recently returned 18,000 corporate Blackberry devices and substituted them with employee-owned mobile devices.
  3. Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) are scrambling to add a mobile interface to the Enterprise software they sell. A panel of ISV representatives talked about their experiences adding a mobile interface. Interestingly enough, they all chose to implement mobile web apps.
  4. Mobile devices are not limited to smartphones and tablets (such as the iPad). Included in this are machine-to-machine (M2M) mobile devices in healthcare, automotive, etc. I was surprised to see how much development that Sprint/Nextel was doing in M2M development.
  5. Microsoft has finally entered the mobile device game in a major way with Windows Mobile 7. Microsoft had several models of newly-introduced smartphones for conference attendees to play with. Time will tell if this platform will catch on in a big way. I certainly am not one to rule out Microsoft’s ability to play in this market.
There are many more observations that I could make, but I'll stop here for now.