Survey Says: The Web is Winning in Mobile Dev

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New research from Ionic shows hybrid and progressive web apps are dominating development, enterprise mobile is surging, and while Google Firebase is hot – wearables are not

The Web is Winning

“It may be counterintuitive to some, but the web is increasingly important to mobile user experiences,” noted Max Lynch, co-founder and CEO, Ionic.

According to a survey of more than 13,000 developers, the web is seeing a resurgence when it comes to the mobile app space: hybrid apps dominate, progressive web apps (PWAs) are growing rapidly, and web developers are thriving in this new order.

Conducted by Ionic, provider of the world's most popular cross-platform mobile development technology stack, the Developer Survey revealed that hybrid is overtaking traditional native development. The Survey indicated that two years ago, 20 percent of developers were building exclusively with native tools, whereas in the next two years, that number is only 3% -- nearly a 7x decrease. In fact, nearly one third of developers expect to abandon native development all together.

Further, an increasing number (32 percent) of developers are targeting PWAs, which bring features we expect from native apps to the mobile browser experience and run in a secure container accessible to anyone on the web. And, 35 percent of developers surveyed are deploying responsive web design, which allows web content to automatically self-adapt to any device. Both progressive web apps and responsive web are designed to help mobile developers reach more users beyond the confines of app stores and address potential app fatigue amongst consumers.

“It may be counterintuitive to some, but the web is increasingly important to mobile user experiences,” noted Max Lynch, co-founder and CEO, Ionic. “There are only so many apps people are willing to download to a device, and fewer still that they use regularly – so brands need a seamless experience across platforms to meet and engage customers on their terms. I am not at all surprised to see the boomerang back to the web as a core platform to support hybrid and browser-based apps.”

In addition, the survey indicated that developers are increasingly (42%) building enterprise apps for internal employee use (“B2E”) rather than just those that are customer-facing. This is consistent with a broader trend of modernization in the enterprise, as legacy systems are replaced with mobile experiences that improve employee productivity and engagement. On the consumer side, talk of wearable and smart devices may be mostly hype: the data show only 3 percent of developers are building for smartwatches or TVs.

Among Ionic developers, Google’s Firebase is the preferred backend services provider. Significantly more developers (42 percent) use Firebase for push notifications over No. 2 Amazon Web Services (8 percent), and developers chose Firebase Auth over Amazon Cognito by 10x. Firebase also topped the list of hosted backend databases, with 32 percent of developers using it compared to a combined 12 percent for Amazon DynamoDB and RDS. For backend technology, Node.js continues its reign as the top choice for developers at 56 percent.

Finally, underscoring this resurgence of the web’s significance and a shift in required skill sets for mobile development, nearly 80% of survey respondents identify themselves as web developers, and only about 8 percent identify as born-and-bred mobile developers.

For more insights about developer preferences and behaviors, the full Ionic Developer Survey is available. The survey was fielded from February to June 2017 and a total of 13,248 developers responded.

About Ionic:
Ionic makes it easy for entrepreneurs and enterprises to build high performance apps that look and feel beautiful on any platform or device. The Ionic Framework is the #1 adopted cross-platform development framework in the world, with a vibrant community of more than 5 million developers in over 200 countries. Ionic’s open source Framework and developer-friendly tools and services power some of the best-known brands on earth, from highly successful consumer apps like Sworkit, Untappd and MarketWatch, to mission-critical apps supporting Nationwide and NASA.

Headquartered in Madison, WI, the company is backed by premier investors including General Catalyst Partners and Techstars. For more information, visit ionicframework.com and follow the company on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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Melissa Mahoney
for Ionic
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