As a result of the increasingly diverse mobile-device ecosystem, the market for enterprise-ready mobile cross-platform development tools has exploded in recent years. Businesses of all sizes are hungry for solutions that allow them to develop scalable applications using a single code base, while taking full advantage of a device’s capabilities -- a tall order for any vendor.
IDC forecasts that the mobile application development platform (MADP) market will reach $4.8 billion by 2017, but as of right now, the market is undeveloped and fragmented. There are dozens of vendors, from large-scale infrastructure providers to small startups, all vying for a piece of the business. Here we provide a brief overview of some of the key players in the MADP space.
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Known primarily for its SaaS applications, Salesforce is also a formidable presence in the MADP space.
Salesforce Touch, which is part of Force.com, allows users to create Web, native, and hybrid applications for the iOS and Android platforms. Salesforce Touch supports jQuery, Sencha, and Apache Cordova.
The Touch MADP’s unique selling proposition becomes obvious if the business is already using salesforce.com’s CRM products, as integration is seamless; however, it is a formidable solution in its own right.
Kony initially focused on business-to-consumer (B2C) applications; however, the acquisition of Sky Technologies has enabled the company to evolve its B2E capabilities.
Adobe acquired Nitobi Software, the maker of the PhoneGap framework, in 2011. PhoneGap is based on the Apache Cordova project and is free to use, making it a hugely popular framework.
Adobe is also introducing an enterprise version of PhoneGap, which integrates the Marketing Cloud suite into the platform. PhoneGap Enterprise is currently in beta and free to use, however once it reaches general availability, it will likely become a fee-based solution.
MAF is just the mobile piece of Oracle’s larger SOA Suite offering, which includes analytics, orchestration, service virtualization, and cloud connectivity.
MAF is well suited to existing customers who are already reliant on Oracle’s software and/or hardware.
IBM bought Worklight in 2012 and has since worked hard to integrate it with its other products and solutions. In addition to SAP’s offering, it is perhaps the most advanced MADP to come from the larger vendors.
The IBM Worklight framework is made up of four main components: IBM Worklight Studio, IBM Worklight Device Runtime Components, IBM Worklight Server, and IBM Worklight Console.
SAP has been around longer than most in the MADP space and, as a result, has a strong offering. For a long time, the vendor was guilty of overwhelming customers with its vast array of solutions -- Syclo Agentry, Sybase Mobilizer, and Sybase Unwired Platform. However, the company recently rolled all of the tools into one platform called SAP Mobile Platform.
Appcelerator is one of the founding fathers of cross-platform app development. The company recently consolidated its individual components under Appcelerator Platform 4.0. The new platform, which integrates Appcelerator's MADP with analytics and cloud capabilities, includes the Arrow tool. Arrow allows developers to assemble APIs, data models, and data connectors via an intuitive visual wizard.
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