Rise of the 2nd Mobile App War

Starting with the inception of the iPhone in 2007, and the invention of the app store in 2008AppleGoogleBlackBerryMicrosoft, and a slew of third-party mobile app stores have waged a battle for developers and for app downloads. The winner of the "App War" would go on to win the consumer vote and eventually make a truckload of money both in pure revenue and in an increase in value of their company stock.

All of the fighting has resulted in multiple casualties. BlackBerry couldn't keep up the pace and was eventually chopped off at the knees. Microsoft has yet to gain enough developer volume to be a real threat and will eventually reinvent itself as a new company under new leadership. Third-party app stores are distributed and nimble but really amount to nothing more than splinter groups using guerrilla tactics against the major nation states. They just can't compete in the long term.

In the United States, Google Play and Apple iTunes have become the two superpowers in the mobile app war. With exceptional mobile application uptake, these two players have come to dominate the consumer mobile space. Phones don't sell phones. . .applications sell phones, and these two players have won.

It's 2013 and the first mobile app war is nearly complete; however, recently a second skirmish has begun to form. Enterprise mobile management vendors are beginning to gear up for a new app race to gain the business of the enterprise-level buyer. This war won't be fought on the battle ground of hardware; instead, the fighting will reside inside of the offerings being brought to market by vendors throughout the current mobile ecosystem, specifically mobile device management vendors. Applications under development by third-party mobile software vendors are beginning to embrace one or more mobile device management software development kits. The vendor SDK gives the ISV the ability to meet enterprise audit and security requirements. Meeting these requirements will raise application consumption to an ever higher level and fuel the second mobile application war.                           

There are over 150 vendors in the mobile device management space and many of them have their own SDK.

  • MobileIron released its "AnyWare" movement. In addition to the MobileIron Apps@Work and AppConnect SDK, MobileIron is making a strong play to acquire ISV partners that will help it have the largest quantity of secured enterprise applications in existence.
  • Citrix XenMobile is also offering a secure application store front. XenMobile delivers secure applications via the Worx App SDK. This technology embeds critical security and enterprise requirements into any mobile application. The Worx App Gallery contains a large number of SDK integrated enterprise applications provided by third-party ISV partners as well.
  • Airwatch and Good Technology (Good Dynamics) are also participating in the fight with their own SDKs that will allow for mobile application security to be layered in by partner ISV companies. 

Right now, there is a multi-participant high stakes war going on to become the de facto secure enterprise application market. Whoever wins the war will likely become a major force in the highly competitive and near commodity mobile device management space. Once again, we will see winners defined not necessarily by the technology being sold but by who the developers choose to embrace. First-mover advantage and marketing spend may well determine who is the victor of the next mobile app war.

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