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Firm Ranks Mobile App Development Platforms

Big corporate names like IBM, Microsoft, Adobe Systems and Salesforce dominate Gartner Inc.'s new list of mobile application development platform (MADP) leaders, though the smaller Kony Inc. has made the grade for the fourth year in a row.

Gartner uses its Magic Quadrant to rank vendors according to their "ability to execute" and "completeness of vision," placing companies that excel on both indices in the "leaders" category, which features just those five companies in the new June 2016 study. Kony provided a complimentary copy of the for-pay report here.

"The MADP market offers tools, technologies, components and services that together constitute the critical elements of an integrated platform," the report states. "The MADP enables an organization to design, develop, test, deploy, distribute, manage and analyze a portfolio of cross-platform mobile apps running on a range of devices and addressing the requirements of diverse use cases, including external-facing and internal-facing scenarios."

Kony, which edged IBM on the vision index and trailed only IBM on the execution index, said its Mobility Platform fits that description. "It supports the entire application software development lifecycle (SDLC) and operations (DevOps) lifecycle, empowering enterprises to quickly design, build, deploy, and manage multi-edge app experiences," the company said.

"Kony is in the Leaders quadrant this year, based on its continued strong execution globally -- particularly in building strong partnerships with system integrators, including a global alliance with Cognizant -- and its completeness of offering," Gartner said in the report. "Being the largest independent MADP provider, Kony's vision also continues to be strong in relation to both the richness of its front-end development and its forward-thinking back-end services and integration capabilities."

June 2016 Magic Quadrant for Mobile App Development Platforms
[Click on image for larger view.] June 2016 Magic Quadrant for Mobile App Development Platforms (source: Gartner)

Along with Kony, some other MADP leaders put out news releases trumpeting their ranking by Gartner.

Xamarin exec Nat Friedman, whose C#-based cross-platform technology was acquired by Microsoft, said his former company's tooling helped the Redmond software giant attain leadership status this year.

"The designation reflects the fact that Microsoft's Mobile Application Development Platform vision has expanded dramatically, evidenced by the Xamarin integration, enhancements to Azure App Service, and improved mobile DevOps capabilities," he said.

Gartner also touched on the Xamarin integration in its analysis.

"Microsoft's MADP is a broad omnichannel offering based mainly on Visual Studio, Azure App Service, and the Xamarin platform that was acquired in early 2016," the report states. "Hybrid apps are built using Visual Studio Tools for Apache Cordova. Native apps can be built using C# and .NET with Xamarin in Visual Studio, which is now free and open-source as part of the .NET Foundation. Developers can use Xamarin.Forms to build cross-platform UI elements for greater code reuse. Citizen developers, such as line-of-business analysts, can create hybrid apps with Microsoft PowerApps, using a no-code authoring tool (PowerApps is fully generally available in 2H16)."

Adobe exec Aseem Chandra pointed to the company's Experience Manager as the focal point of its MADP, helping enterprises build, manage and deliver enterprise apps. "Mobile is at the heart of connecting the physical world to digital experiences, yet brands are challenged with building and managing apps that provide an amazing experience for their customers and employees," Chandra said. "We believe our recognition as a leader in Gartner's report validates the unique functional and design value that Adobe Experience Manager Mobile brings to organizations."

"AEM Mobile is Adobe's MADP; however, its full mobile app development capabilities require the use of other Adobe products, including Adobe Marketing Cloud and the new Adobe.io offering," Gartner said. "Many of the back-end data integration and services capabilities are tightly integrated with the Adobe Marketing Cloud, such as messaging (push, in-app, SMS, e-mail) and location services. Adobe's mobile analytics are also very strong, offering extensive enhancements to facilitate personalization and targeting for apps developed using AEM Mobile."

At Salesforce, the App Cloud is the centerpiece of its MADP offering, further showcasing the company's evolution from its CRM roots into mobile app development.

"Salesforce's App Cloud contains all the essential elements of a MADP to address a spectrum of mobile Web and app development needs, from line-of-business users to experienced developers," Gartner said. "Underpinning the newer capabilities of the multichannel App Cloud is a set of Lightning technologies consisting of a UI Component Framework, Schema Builder, Process Builder and App Builder.

"Lightning Schema Builder and Process Builder are used to build Web apps without coding, using a visual point-and-click approach, while App Builder offers a drag-and-drop editor to create and deploy hybrid apps via the Salesforce1 app container. For more custom-made app development, mobile SDKs for native iOS and Android, React Native framework and Cordova are available, as well as watchOS and Android Wear SDKs. Offline support has been available for apps built using the SDKs, but now Salesforce has added system-level offline support for objects and files for Salesforce1 and Lightning-built apps."

IBM, the leader in execution, offers the MobileFirst Platform, which relies upon the company's Bluemix cloud for Mobile-Back-end-as-a-Service (MBaaS) functionality.

"The IBM MobileFirst Platform is a comprehensive MADP spanning the full software development life cycle and offering elements addressing app design, development, testing, deployment and management for mobile hybrid apps (using Cordova)," Gartner said. "An extension of the IBM MobileFirst Platform is IBM MobileFirst for iOS, where IBM has partnered with Apple to develop more than 100 template apps with specific iOS feature support. IBM has added new App Builder and API Connect products to enhance front-end and back-end productivity. The MobileFirst App Builder gives developers a visual development tool that generates native mobile apps, along with Objective-C and Android Java code that can be edited in the native IDEs."

Gartner also ranked 12 other companies in its quadrant exploring the burgeoning mobile app dev space. The research firm said that some three-quarters of enterprises will use an MADP platform by 2020, up from the one-third of enterprises reportedly using such a platform last year.

About the Author

David Ramel is the editor of Visual Studio Magazine.

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