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Mobile App Revolution Rivals Industrial Revolution

By Tom Kaneshige, CIO
December 03, 2013 06:21 PM ET

CIO - Mobile apps, mobile commerce, and the size and savviness of the mobile community are all growing up fast. Services from the likes of Facebook speed the process by helping developers find and target audiences, and, hopefully, lead to mounds of money. Mobile shoppers are tapping the buy button on their smartphones and tablets more than ever before.

Mobile apps are disrupting industries at a pace "not seen since the industrial revolution," CEO Simon Khalaf at Flurry, an app analytics firm that tracks activity on more than a billion devices around the world, told the crowd at the AppNation event in San Francisco this week.

"It's Black Friday every hour," he says.

[ R E L A T E D : How to Support Mobile App Development in Your Organization

Mobile messaging apps are already out gaining subscribers compared to major wireless carriers in many countries, including the United States. All of this represents a golden opportunity: Messaging apps will reach 1.5 billion users next year and become a promotional juggernaut for digital and consumer electronic goods, Flurry predicts.

Mobile developer services have evolved, too. Facebook, for instance, offers a platform for developers to churn out mobile apps quickly. These apps can appear as "suggested apps" in mobile Facebook feeds targeting certain demographics. Users can download the app, log-in with their Facebook credentials and have purchase order fields automatically filled out.

Even the muddy mobile Web versus native app platform debate is starting to clear up, as standards and mobile platforms have emerged as winners, thus reducing fragmentation and uncertainty. Speaking on an AppNation panel, Mark Young, vice president of strategy and business development at NBC Universal, says he's splitting development efforts equally between iOS, Android and HTML 5.

[Related: Mobile App Standoff: Web App vs. Native App ]

Flurry says he sees an even bigger split: 87 percent of time spent on mobile is in apps, whereas 13 percent is on the mobile Web.

While mobility has come a long way in a short time, growing pains are far from over. Now mobile companies will have to wrestle with wearables threatening the smartphone as the user interface of choice, expansion of the tablet, and the constant challenge of gaining traction -- and making money -- in a massive mobile apps market increasingly being dominated by developers in other countries, such as China, according to Flurry.

"Maybe AppNation should change it's name to AppWorld," Khalaf quipped.

Tom Kaneshige covers Apple, BYOD and Consumerization of IT for CIO.com. Follow Tom on Twitter @kaneshige. Follow everything from CIO.com on Twitter @CIOonline, Facebook, Google + and LinkedIn. Email Tom at tkaneshige@cio.com

Read more about mobile/wireless in CIO's Mobile/Wireless Drilldown.

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