Hybrid Mobile Apps to Gain Ground Through 2106: Gartner

Application development activities should be consolidated via cross-platform frameworks as enterprises come to rely more on mobile apps.

More than 50 percent of mobile applications deployed by 2016 will be hybrid apps as enterprises come under pressure from management and employees to develop and deploy solutions to accommodate mobile work styles and increase customer engagement, according to a report from IT research firm Gartner.

Developers are expected to consider both hybrid and native architectures as the need for context awareness in mobile applications has increased. The advantages of the hybrid architecture, which combines the portability of HTML5 Web apps with a native container that facilitates access to native device features, will appeal to many enterprises, the report predicted.

"Mobility has always been a separate topic for IT professionals, but it is now influencing mainstream strategies and tactics in the wider areas of technology enablement and enterprise architectures," Gartner vice president and distinguished analyst Ken Dulaney said in a statement. "Increasingly, enterprises are finding that they need to support multiple platforms, especially as the [bring your own device] BYOD trend gains momentum."

In addition, enterprise developers are considering alternatives to Web application development as applications to leverage location information, notification systems, mapping capabilities and even on-device hardware such as the camera require hybrid architectures.

"Our advice would be to assume the enterprise will have to manage a large and diverse set of mobile applications that will span all major architectures," Gartner research vice president Van Baker said in a statement. "Enterprises should consider how applications can be enriched or improved by the addition of native device capabilities and evaluate development frameworks that offer the ability to develop native, hybrid and Web applications using the same code base. Where possible, development activities should be consolidated via cross-platform frameworks."

Gartner also made predictions around mobility and the enterprise, projecting by 2014, Apple will be as accepted by enterprise IT as Microsoft is today, and by the end of this year, the first $50 smartphone will appear in emerging countries. Enterprises should plan for continued consumerization and for the fact that Apple will continue to be a significant beneficiary, the report said. The combination of competitive pricing pressure, open-channel market growth and feature elimination/integration will “very soon” result in the $50 smartphone, the report added.

"Although Apple's mobile iPhone and iPads are already as accepted by enterprise IT as is Microsoft, Apple's Mac systems for laptops/notebooks and desktops remain not commonly accepted by IT," vice president and Gartner Fellow David Mitchell Smith said in a statement. "Going forward, Apple will continue to benefit from consumerization and will continue to evolve Macs to take on more iOS characteristics, which will contribute to acceptance of Macs in the enterprise. As such, enterprise acceptance of Apple will continue to be driven by consumer demand."