At WES 2009, RIM made it very clear that cloud computing was on the long term agenda for developing useful services for enterprise. While handsets are becoming more powerful and network infrastructure can handle stronger loads, cloud computing will help push the industry even further by taking the lion’s share of these stresses.
A new architecture based on software running in the cloud will drastically change the way mobile applications are developed, acquired, and used. According to a new study from ABI Research, this will be a profoundly disruptive development that could eclipse the current mobile application model by 2014, delivering revenue of nearly $20 billion annually by the end of that year.
“Mobile application developers today face the challenge of multiple mobile operating systems,” says senior analyst Mark Beccue. “Either they must write for just one OS, or create many versions of the same application. More sophisticated apps require significant processing power and memory in the handset. Using Web development, applications can run on servers instead of locally, so handset requirements can be greatly reduced and developers can create just one version of an application. This trend is in its infancy today, but ABI Research believes that eventually it will become the prevailing model for mobile applications.”
This approach is not without challenges, chief among which is intermittent network availability. A cloud-based application stops working if you lose your connection. However new programming languages such as HTML 5 will enable data caching on the handset, allowing work to continue until cellular signal is restored.
“Cloud computing will bring unprecedented sophistication to mobile applications,” Beccue notes. “To mention just a few examples, business users will benefit from collaboration and data sharing apps. Personal users will gain from remote access apps allowing them to monitor home security systems, PCs or DVRs, and from social networking mashups that let them share photos and video or incorporate their phone address books and calendars.”
Consider reading ABI Research’s new study “Mobile Cloud Computing,” which details the mobile applications that will lead the growth, the key technologies, players and initiatives involved, new business models that will be introduced, and the barriers that must be overcome.