Cloud based computing has been gaining momentum over the last few years and is taking firm shape with small and large businesses moving towards a cloud-based architecture. It was only a matter of time before the concept filtered down to mobile applications. Currently in nascent stage, mobile cloud computing or web based app development is expected to overtake conventional mobile apps by 2014; with over 88% growth and $9.4 billion in revenue.
Mobile cloud computing brings new opportunities for developers, mobile network providers, and end users. With infrastructure and security offloaded to hosting centers, network operators can cut down on capital investment and focus on expanding and strengthening network coverage. In fact, network operators have already got a whiff of the upcoming data usage boom which is why they are gradually moving unlimited data plans out of their offerings.
For developers, web based apps offer unlimited opportunities. Currently, mobile app developers only look at Android or iOS. Android offers easier clearance for apps but it is not a reliable revenue source. On the other hand, apps on Apple’s App Store get more recognition and revenue but a 30% cut goes to the iOS magnate. Web based apps cut out the middleman altogether. Amazon used HTML5 to get its cloud based Kindle Reader to Apple users when Apple’s policies became too restrictive.
Instead of spending time, money and effort in creating platform specific versions of their apps, mobile app developers can focus on just one web-based app. Native apps are dependent on the platform they run on but web apps run on browsers. Since most mobile devices today are equipped with optimized browsers, developers have access to a broader market.
The world of mobile apps also gets enriched by the inclusion of skilled web developers from streams other than the niche skill set that includes Objective-C, Java, C and C++.End users will also see the benefits of cloud based apps as hardware ceases to be the all-important consideration in mobile device purchases. Apart from bringing down the cost of devices, it will be viable for operators and manufacturers to deliver more enhancements and value added services to consumers.
One of the biggest challenges facing cloud based mobile computing protagonists is the complete dependence on a constant internet connection. Though mobile connectivity has improved dramatically in recent times, a lot more is required for cloud based apps to gain universal acceptance. Other than that, cloud based apps have a long way to go in terms of offering features, functions and performance that equals that of native apps.
Apple’s iCloud is a big step forward for the company. It has reduced device dependency by allowing all iOS devices to share content, application/game states and historic data seamlessly. Third party developers also have access to iCloud via APIs. Other much used cloud-based services include Amazon Cloud, DropBox, Google Cloud, Microsoft Cloud, and others.Mobile cloud computing offers undeniable advantages and efforts are on to make it mainstream.
Wide adoption of web standard HTML5, improved mobile broadband coverage, and always-on collaborative services for the enterprise are expected to be the biggest growth drivers.
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