Forget native versus web: half of all apps to be hybrid by 2016

When it comes to building apps, there are two dominant lines of thought: go native — that is build an app specifically for an OS — or build a web app (most likely using HTML 5). The fight between the two hasn’t always been easy. Facebook used HTML 5 for its mobile apps for a long time. When it went native, Mark Zuckerberg said he regretted not doing so sooner. “The biggest mistake we made as a company was betting too much on HTML5 as opposed to native,” he said. “It just wasn’t ready”. There is however a middle way.

Hybrid apps make it possible to embed HTML 5 elements within a thin native app and they’re set to become the de-facto form of app in the near future.

In fact, tech research company Gartner reckons that more than 50% of mobile apps deployed by 2016 will be hybrid. The reason for the ascent of hybrid apps, it says, comes from the need for context awareness, which has increased with the capabilities of mobile devices. For apps to leverage location information, notification systems, mapping capabilities and even on-device hardware such as the camera, they need to be developed using either hybrid or native architectures. That means pure web apps just don’t cut it anymore.

The rise of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) in big business meanwhile means that people can’t get away with building one native app any more. Gartner research vice president Van Baker reckons that building hybrid apps will make their lives significantly easier. Businesses he says “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 reckons predicts that Apple will become increasingly widely accepted among big business in the near future:

By 2014, Apple will be as accepted by enterprise IT as Microsoft is today
The acceptance of Apple in the workspace, Gartner says, comes largely on the back of the increasing popularity of the iPhone and iPad in the space.

“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,” said David Mitchell Smith, vice president and Gartner Fellow.

“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.”

Microsoft’s mobile offerings — Windows Phone and Windows 8 — are new, but will continue to achieve some acceptance, largely due to the relationships that Microsoft has built and the management capabilities they provide. Unlike Apple however Microsoft hasn’t benefited from a mass demand to bring consumer-driven devices and into the work place. As a result of this shifting landscape, Gartner reckons that big should plan on adopting an increasing number of Apple devices.

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