Sergey Nivens - Fotolia
As mobile enterprise application platforms either lose business or get acquired, mobile application development platforms and other frameworks will replace them.
Mobile enterprise application platforms (MEAPs) are a specialized group of technologies that encompass the whole development lifecycle and are commonly used to create and distribute one codebase among many different operating systems. Although MEAPs continue to improve, the knock against them is that they're a way of creating more "out of the box" apps, compared to the more general-purpose apps created by native development toolkits. Mobile application development platforms, or MADPs, on the other hand, comprise a broader group of technologies, including native development kits, Web toolkits like Sencha and JQuery Mobile, and wrapper tools like Adobe Phonegap.
So, is the MEAP market dying? The Yankee Group predicts that MEAPs will fall out of favor because of their lack of scalability, flexibility and extensibility, and I do think this is a possibility. Mobile apps are a large part of enterprise technology's future, and companies are hesitant to invest time and money implementing tools and platforms that may not meet their needs going forward.
Of course, that does not mean that MEAPs are completely out of the picture. If you are a large company that has an infrastructure based on SAP products, for example, it makes sense to leverage that investment.
The future of mobile development
There are many options for developing mobile apps today, but one doesn't stick out above the others. To start the research process, ask yourself: Are the apps just for employees, or are they for customers (or a combination of both)? The bottom line is that the quality of the user experience should outweigh the ease of deploying an off-the-shelf platform. This goal would lend itself to utilizing native development kits, along with some framework or app-wrapping tools.
If this is your first mobile app project, you may want to contact a vendor and create an environment where it can work hand in hand with your development team so the team can learn the development process. The best advice is to be flexible and acknowledge that platforms need to scale in size and to other platforms. A framework that does a great job working across platforms one year may not be able to work with a new OS that could become mainstream, or you might not be able to use it to develop an app for a smartwatch, TV, refrigerator or any other Internet of Things product that may be in your future. Use caution in your investments, because you may be looking to develop for different platforms every couple of years at the very least.