Enterprise Apps Might Be The Next Big Thing In Mobile

There has been a lot of buzz about mobile apps for the enterprise. It might be well deserved.

More than 600,000 apps exist on iTunes with most focused on consumers. Applications designed for use inside businesses might present an equally lucrative opportunity in a few short years.

Today few companies target the enterprise market, says Rich Miner, a partner at Google Ventures and co-founder of the startup Android. But the opportunity could be huge, he said Thursday at the GigaOM Mobilize conference. “I think there is still room for enterprise solutions.”

His view found plenty of support at the San Francisco event. Enterprise is the new frontier, said J Schwan, founder of the mobile app developer Solstice Mobile. Half of Solstice Mobile’s present business involves the development of consumer apps. The other half is focused on enterprise applications for internal corporate use. He expects within a year or two to see a shift that focuses most future work on internal business applications.

“It’s not as sexy, but it’s definitely valuable,” he says.

So valuable, added Jeff Haynie, co-founder of Appcelerator, that the enterprise is where most of the wealth creation will take place in the next five years.

“It’s still very early in the enterprise,” but app development there is already growing, Haynie said. This quarter, 60% of Appcelerator’s business selling tools and a software platform for application development is focused on apps for internal business use. A year ago, a majority was tied to consumer facing apps. Appcelerator is backed by venture investors including Mayfield Fund, Sierra Ventures and Storm Ventures.

The most immediate opportunities in the enterprise are likely the most obvious ones. They include apps for field workers, such as sales personnel making customer calls and knowledge workers seeking access to data. Other opportunities will exist putting a mobile face on business functions, such filing expense reports, obtaining approvals and sharing documents and information.

Longer term, more complex implementations should evolve.

Photo of Rich Miner taken by Mark Boslet.

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