Forecast: Cloud-based mobile apps to dominate by 2014

Cloud computing architectures promise to dramatically reshape how mobile applications are developed, acquired and used, and could eclipse the current mobile application distribution model by 2014, delivering annual revenues of nearly Euro 14.4 billion (US$20 billion) by that time, according to a new forecast issued by market analysis firm ABI Research. "Mobile application developers today face the challenge of multiple mobile operating systems," ABI Research senior analyst Mark Beccue notes in a prepared statement. "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."

ABI anticipates that while personal consumers will benefit from cloud-based remote access apps allowing them to monitor home security systems, PCs and DVRs as well as social networking solutions that enable content sharing, enterprise users will enjoy a new breed of collaboration and data-sharing apps. ABI nevertheless admits that cloud computing faces its own set of challenges, chief among them intermittent network availability issues that can cripple cloud-based apps in the event of a lost connection. However, the study contends that new programming languages including HTML 5 will enable handset data caching, allowing the app to continue operating until the network signal is restored.