How the cloud will transform mobile apps and why Big Apple may not be too happy about the developing scenario?
The Apple Apps store was the start of something big. While Apple has already registered 1 billion downloads, Palm notched up an impressive million in the first few weeks of launch. Google, RIM, Nokia are following suit. All this is happening in midst of reports that contrary to earlier beliefs, the Apps store is not really creating the kind of stickiness which the Internet marketers were counting upon.
Today the Apps store may not be generating a lot of cash/revenue. Infact, Apps Stores are thriving more on classic freetardonomics and base commoditization than ever. However, it is a space being infiltrated by handset-makers, software companies, and operations/ business support systems vendors, thousands of new and experienced developers, third parties and even carriers. It also is a space that will be and already is being transformed by the cloud, according to ABI Research.
In a report released this week, ABI said that new software running in the cloud will drastically change the way mobile apps are developed, acquired and used, breaking the market free from the constraints of limited computing power. According to the report, this new paradigm could deliver revenues of nearly $20 billion annually by the end of 2014.Web development can enable apps to run on servers instead of locally, so handset requirements for processing power and memory can be greatly reduced and developers will only need to create one version of their app. Certain apps and services, including Google Apps and Amazon.com, already use the cloud, but for the most part, while the industry is trending toward this, these are still the early days.
Many and most of these players, force developers to choose between picking their favorite OS or creating multiple versions of their app. Companies such as Qualcomm have launched open platforms for apps distribution to address this issue, but it still doesn’t solve the problem of taxing processing power and memory constraints. Though there are issues such as access, security, data back up, the main problem with a continuous connection with the cloud is that clouds based apps stop when the connection is lost. New programming languages such as HTML 5 can overcome this through data caching. So while cloud computing becomes more common, apps will become much more sophisticated. Business users will benefit from collaboration and data sharing apps; while 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.
Interestingly, while Apple pioneered the Apps Store trend, it is also most likely to resist the cloud based model and be reluctant to move into a more democratic apps development market. It would be counterproductive for Apple to let the base for all the Apps driven advantage (iPod/iPhone based) to get diluted and hence, would not like to give up the control that Cloud Computing may ask to forsake on their Apps stores/developers. For the rest of the market, however especially wireless operators, for which the cloud can up transport revenues cloud computing should, and likely will, be embraced.