This week the analysis team at Gartner has made it clear that they expect the mobile app market to be more than 50% made up of apps that are cross-platform, aka "hybrid apps". These apps will be working with a combination of the "portability" of HTML5 Web apps with a native container for each different device, regardless of mobile OS. This means that, as many high-end apps release today already do, so will a much more vast cross-section of brands bring their apps to iOS, Android, Windows Phone, BlackBerry, and more.
The team at Gartner spoke up about how they're seeing more context awareness appearing as an important element for brands appearing on mobile devices. This means that while a webpage is fine for a company that wants to represent themselves in a really basic way, it's only through apps that can access your smartphone's hardware features that they can be really, truly engaging. If you've got an app that can use your device's GPS to locate the nearest store instantly, it's much more convenient than a "find your local store" button in a webpage that comes before several more clicks before completion.
Gartner speaks through their research vice president Van Baker who suggests that their 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." He goes on to note that applications should be considered in how they'll 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." It would appear that the next generation of app development will require a solution other than the current method of "get every device on the market and test it out yourself."
This look at the future appears to be based not just on the fact that many top companies already have app representation on multiple devices, but on the idea that the development of apps must be simplified in order for a truly hybrid environment to exist. If it's not easy to do, some platforms will miss out - and companies creating these apps will miss out as well. Consider a world where a team of inventors makes an energy drink that some people cannot ingest because they can't swallow it - everyone loses!