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Why mobile applications need cloud services

New data suggests that mobile app stores will flounder without connectivity to high-value cloud resources.

A recent study released by ABI Research says that limited processing power, battery life, and data storage will limit mobile application growth in the mass market, even among smartphones like Apple's iPhone.

But, applications that connect to cloud resources are much more likely to be successful than those that run only on the mobile device.

ABI Research predicts mobile cloud computing will deliver annual revenues topping $20 billion over the next five years. ABI Research senior analyst Mark Beccue says device fragmentation and memory currently limit the level of sophistication developers can deliver through mobile apps. By contrast, running mobile applications in the cloud will free up mobile processors while also enabling developers to create just one version of their application.

"Cloud computing will bring unprecedented sophistication to mobile applications," noted Beccue. "To mention just a few examples, business users will benefit from collaboration and data sharing apps. Personal users will gain from remote access apps allowing them to monitor home security systems, PCs or DVRs, and from social networking mashups that let them share photos and video or incorporate their phone address books and calendars."

Funambol, an open-source mobile cloud sync company, seems to agree with this view of the future. When I spoke to Fabrizio Capobiano, CEO at Funambol, he said: "Mobile cloud sync is emerging as a major new category of wireless services. Apple, Google, Nokia, Microsoft, Palm, and others recently introduced mobile cloud sync services and all mobile operators and ISPs are racing to keep up. Current solutions are fairly basic, but open source is enabling more flexibility and innovation among these folks because it is so easy to adapt."

You can hear more about open source and mobile cloud sync from Mike Taczak, a team lead for Webmail apps at Rackspace, as he describes how the company uses Funambol in the video below.

Follow me on Twitter @daveofdoom.