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Four Predictions for the Future of Mobile Apps

URLs as we know them will go away, says Salesforce.com's Adam Bosworth.

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The world is becoming increasingly mobile. By the end of this year, smartphone subscriptions could officially outnumber the global population. Powering much of this shift is custom applications. Consumers can now order transportation, browse real estate listings, buy groceries, adjust their thermostat, and more, all with a few taps on their mobile devices.

Adam Bosworth is a longtime Silicon Valley veteran. He’s known as one of the pioneers of XML technology, has held numerous senior positions at Microsoft, and is a former Google vice president of engineering. Now the current chief strategic officer for cloud and mobile innovator Salesforce.com, Bosworth gives us four of his predictions for the future of apps:

1. Far fewer apps than websites

“One of the coolest things about the Web is the infinite number of places you can go,” says Bosworth. “That’s not going to work with mobile apps.” He adds that, even now, most people rarely check apps that aren’t located on the front page of their phones. Bosworth predicts that as long as mobile remains dominant, the number of places people visit using mobile apps will continue to decline, especially compared to the limitlessness of the Web.

2. Apps will become “vertical”

This fewer number of apps will center around communication or managing a vertical path in your life or job: Health, beauty, home, finance, and travel, for example. Companies will then “plug into” the category that encompasses their product or service. “We’re going to move from ‘the brand controls the user experience from the moment they go there,’ to ‘the brand can augment and have a value proposition within it, but they don’t control it,'” Bosworth explains. He adds that Salesforce.com is one of very few companies with the capabilities to power these app hubs.

3. Data will be kept locally

Today’s apps run like websites: They constantly need to connect to the cloud to retrieve information. Bosworth expects to see apps and their accompanying data live on mobile devices and only occasionally “check in” with the cloud to stay in sync. Mobile devices’ increasingly powerful storage capacity will facilitate this transition, according to Bosworth.

4. Power will move to mobile vendors

As developers and companies build more and more custom apps for mobile, Bosworth tends to believe that URLs as we know them will go away. “The knowledge of where a user is, and what to put in front of them as a result, plus very small screen real estate, will make the mobile vendors much more powerful,” he says.

Laura Fagan is a brand journalist for Salesforce.com.

This article originally appeared on Recode.net.

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