Looking back, it is unlikely organizations from by-gone eras never even imagined the concept of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device). Available technology limited IT departments’ vision of manageable, secure mobile scenarios to one or two corporate-owned devices operating on private networks. The concept of supporting any device in the hands of an employee, partner, or customer was pure fantasy.
Today, the rise of mobile technologies and the ubiquitous presence of connected devices of all kinds enhance nearly all aspects of our daily experience. But despite the speed with which mobile technologies have permeated our lives, we are still only scratching the surface of the long-term impact of the mobile revolution and the opportunities it will present.
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What’s Next? It’s tough to see the long-term impact of mobile-the changes in the ecosystem are incredibly rapid and fluid. However, over the next few years, we believe key elements of the mobile landscape will evolve in the following ways:
Operating System Fragmentation Continues. Industry data trends indicate that among mobile operating systems-the backbone of all mobile technologies-Google’s Android will dominate with more than 50% of all mobile devices using Android OS by 2016. Microsoft will increase to 25% market share in the smartphone arena and nearly 16% for tablets by 2016. Apple’s iOS would hold a steady grip on smartphones at about 20%, while for tablets, it would fall to about 30% by 2016. And don’t forget Blackberry and Symbian!
In addition to the major players, new mobile operating systems will continue to surface that push technical boundary. In 2013 we will see several new mobile operating systems hit the market. Two examples:
– Ubuntu for Mobile will run on Android devices (but not run Android applications) and even offer a true desktop experience when a device is docked with a keyboard and monitor.
– Mozilla’s Firefox OS for mobile is targeted to run on inexpensive Android devices and primarily run web-based apps from Mozilla’s app store.
From both an IT management and development perspective, it is clear that managing and developing for multiple mobile operating systems will be table stakes. Any organization that cannot manage this complexity adroitly will see customer, partner, and employee perception of overall value skew rapidly toward irrelevance.
Development Languages-HTML5 Wins. For all but the higher-level user experiences, HTML5 will become the most common development language for mobile applications. Key reasons:
– Development is fast and relatively inexpensive
– Data and content can be updated in real-time
– No application needs to be downloaded or updated. From a management perspective, there’s always just one version to support.
HTML5, however, still faces several hurdles – here are just a few:
– Lags native languages in device capabilities. Browsers were initially architected to display content-the transition to a fully interactive (including device hardware) experience remains in progress
– Relatively immature and fragmented (browser rendition can vary a great deal)
– No offline operation
– Performance is slower than native apps and is dependent on data connection speed/quality
Despite these limitations, industry specialists forecast that by 2015 80% of all mobile applications developed will be hybrid (a combination of native and web/HTML5) or HTML5. Don’t just ask, “Does it work?” but “How could it work better?” QA people are capable of more than just bug identification.