IBM, SAP + Adobe Lead in Gartner MQ for Mobile Apps Development
IBM, SAP and Adobe made the Leaders quadrant in Gartner’s latest MQ for mobile application development as mobile continues to be the top technology priority for CIOs, and as the installed base of mobile teeters on the edge of overtaking PCs.

MADP Overview + Leaders

Mobile application development in the enterprise is a big part of many companies’ mobile strategy, and it’s tricky for firms to choose between Web, native and hybrid apps, the 2013 Gartner MQ for Mobile Application Development Platforms found.

Complicating that decision is the fact none of the vendors in this space actually offer a reasonably priced suite that encompasses the huge app variety some companies need. As more vendors enter the space and the market evolves, some common enterprise requirements are starting to converge, and that makes it harder for any one vendor to really stand out.

Nevertheless, the 22 vendors included in this MQ tend to have a wide range of strengths, cautions and visions for the MADP market. They were selected because they met the inclusion criteria like having a significant market impact and a global presence. New selection criteria in this MQ were for openness and for support of Web technologies.

Openness refers to how well the vendor integrates with other products and supports standards. Companies are using an average of 2.5 MADP vendors, Gartner found, so vendors have to be evaluated in this area due to customer demand. Most of the vendors were included in the Niche Player quadrant, and there were only two or three each in the Visionaries and Challengers quadrants.

The Leaders were:

  • IBM
  • SAP
  • Kony
  • Antenna
  • Adobe
  • jQuery Mobile

IBM, SAP, Adobe, Kony Strengths + Cautions

IBM is positioned highest in the Leaders quadrant, and the over five vendors there are pretty close behind it. Appcelerator, Sencha and Xamarin made the Visionaries quadrant, and MicroStrategy and Salesforce made the Challengers quadrant.

Worklight is IBM's mobile platform product, a company it bought in 2012. Since then, IBM has integrated it with other products to produce a life cycle management system. Worklight offers an eclipse based, stand alone IDE, platform specific APIs and runtime components for building apps. Gartner found it's best suited for development organizations focused on multiple devices and those using open technologies like Eclipse, HTML5 and JavaScript.

It's cautions were that there are some integration gaps with some IBM products and third party mobile frameworks, and there aren't many Worklight developer partners just yet.

For SAP, Gartner found the company dramatically grew its MADP license revenue even over its strong 2011 performance, to the point SAP is now the largest MADP provider in terms of license revenue. The SAP Mobile Platform is actually several tools the company rolled into one in 2013. SAP merged Syclo Agentry, Sybase Mobilizer and Sybase Unwired Platform into the combined system, and it's offered in enterprise and consumer editions.

Gartner suggested the system was best for any enterprise that needed one single vendor that offered a broad array of mobile technology, whether or not they are already SAP ERP customers. Strengths were high customer marks given for security and stability, and a broad customer base that showed a wide range of use cases in a variety of industries.

Cautions were complexity, high price, and the possibility of a rapidly changing road map that could lead to future support issues.

Kony is a company that has mostly focused on consumer apps, but its recent acquisition of Sky Technologies has given it a tighter integration with SAP. It won Gartner praise for offering a system that is good for projects that serve large, diverse device populations. Kony has been growing rapidly, and invests heavily in R&D, Gartner found, and its strengths include SLAs that guarantee support for new device and mobile OSes within a specified period.

IBM, SAP + Adobe Lead in Gartner MQ for Mobile Apps Development
Kony embraces a multichannel approach to build and deploy apps.

However, Gartner cautioned the partner ecosystem has yet to develop, and that despite its rapid growth, most of its business has been consumer focused so far.

Adobe is now the leading vendor of commercial HTML5 tools, Gartner found, and Adobe was able to accomplish this in large part because of its 2011 buy of Nitobi, makers of the PhoneGap Web hybrid wrapper technology. The platform won Gartner praise for its ability to be used across platforms, and for PhoneGap's ability to integrate with other MADPs like IBM, SAP and Salesforce.

PhoneGap's wrapped hybrid architecture, however, means lower performance, Gartner found, and code reuse outside of iOS and Android sometimes dips below expectations.

Antenna, jQuery Mobile + Niche Players

A perennial Leader not to be left out is Antenna, and Gartner found its strengths to be a powerful, flexible AD studio and its support for HTML5/JavaScript frameworks so developers can use their choice of tools. The AMPChroma system integrates well in behind the firewall or hosted deployments, and customers gave it high praise for its product vision. Cautions were a lack of people trained on Antenna, relatively high price, and the fact moving off of Antenna could mean major rewriting of applications.

jQuery Mobile has gotten very popular over the last year, Gartner found, and that could be due to it's lightweight and narrow in scope. One popular configuration is a jQuery Mobile and PhoneGap integration that can fulfill a wide range of low to midrange app requirements. jQuery is not really backed by one single company, and many vendors support it to varying degrees.

It's widely used across the Web, and its popularity means it has wide developer support. On the downside, Gartner found it's not as good for high performance apps, and JavaScript developers often go with Appcelerator or Sencha Touch for those.

Leaders in this MQ were defined as those that could remain profitable, present lower risk, and are easy to purchase, program, deploy and upgrade. Niche Players listed were Apple, Google, Microsoft, DSI, Dojo, Usablenet, Netbuscuits, Verivo Software, Motorola Solutions, BlackBerry and ClickSoftware.