A sneak peek into Mobile App Opportunities in 2012


January 27, 2012


This article was originally written by me for yourstory.in. But this version is more “complete” with all of the original links in place.

This was originally supposed to be a post on predictions. But as the founder of a mobile app development company myself, my focus is more on specific opportunities that exist for a boutique company such as ourselves in this space.

We all know that almost no opportunity is exactly what it seems like, but it pays to have good starting points of exploration. And that is what I hope you will leave with, after reading this article.

First let’s look at some facts

Now take a look at some major trends

More Platforms

We have Apple to thank - for creating the app economy with the iOS platform, Google for democratizing the smart phone with Android and now Microsoft for making the life of the “I support all platforms” developer more difficult with Windows Phone 7. If you still want to include Blackberry, despite all of the recent gloom, then that would make it 4 platforms that you’d at least want to consider.

There are now more a million active apps now available across the major app stores. Apple’s app store and the Android Market currently lead by a large margin. However 2012 will probably bring in at least one more serious contender in the Windows Phone 7 marketplace - it has grown by more than 400% this year alone.

The following chart shows the distribution of apps across various marketplaces as of Nov 2011 [Sources:  DistimoPCMag]

Mobile Optimization Services

There are now multiple services available that make it easy for small business owners to “mobili”-ze their websites. Here are 3 such services: Mobile-Optimization-Services.jpg (419×52)

HTML5 Mobile

The browsers fromevery big player are getting more powerful. The open source tools aregetting better andbetter. And with the Flash war finally having ended, Adobe is finally getting on board as well.

*Cross Platform Tools:  These tools make it possible for the app developer to write-once-and-run-on-multiple-platforms. Or at least they try to make that possible. Multiple  acquisitions and fairly large VC investments have happened in this space.


The early movers in this space are continuing to grow or have been acquired. But the new players are doing well as well.

Cross Device Testing as a Service

With more than 300 Android handsets now available from various manufacturers, it is next to impossible to manually test an application across all these devices. There are now multiple [services](http://www.perfectomobile.com/portal/cms/android.html on the cloud that aim to solve this problem for you by automatically testing your Android applications across a wide array of devices.

Mobile-Cross-Device-Testing-as-a-Service.jpg (327×90)

Keeping the above in mind, here are a few opportunities for 2012

“Hybrid” Cross Platform Apps

The cross platform tools I’ve referred to above, allow for native platform API [Application Programming Interface] calls as well. These are useful when you have an application that has a combination of native components and other “content” components which most likely consume web services [and can be built with HTML5 and CSS3].

An example of such an application is the  Onion iPad app. The application is written in HTML5 for the most part - but uses falls back on native API to play video. This is probably because of  some of the issues related to HTML5 video tag support on iOS. The Onion plans to roll out the app quickly on the Android platform as well - and  with mostly the same code [pdf].

Main Challenges:

Main Challenges:

Mobile presence for non-Internet-Savvy retailers

I’m going on a limb here - but most small retailers in India don’t have an Internet presence - and what that means is, a certain  high quality trouser shop with very reasonable price tags - is now invisible on your phone.

Main Challenge:

Cross Platform Testing as Service

While there are cloud testing services now available for specific platforms, services that take care of automated cross-platform testing are still not available.

Main Challenge:

This list of opportunities is admittedly short. But I hope you are now motivated to brainstorm more ideas, distill the most interesting opportunities and finally implement a winner in 2012. Happy New Year!

So what are you waiting for? Start exploring :)