A couple of years ago a bunch of acronyms seem to have defined the conversation, among them combinations like MEAP, MADP or MBaaS. What ever happened to these? Let's find out...
MADP – The summary term
Short for mobile application development platform, these are a suite of tools that assist in all stages of making a mobile app. Starting with prototyping, quick development, debugging and ending with shipping and deploying your app to devices. MADP comes in different flavors depending on what use case you have specifically (see below).
Current state of MADP
The market has become less fragmented over the years. Most vendors popular today have focused around "no code" platforms that allow you to configure pages, forms, etc. with relative ease and deploy your app as a webapp – with the option to wrap it into a native app. These have kind of gone the way of your typical WordPress or website CMS that is relatively easy to use for common use cases.
Mobile backends as a Service are cloud products that bundle up existing databases, interfaces and feeds into accessible APIs that can be exposed to developers or to make mobile apps with. They're sometimes called Middleware, as they frequently used as bridge between the on-premises servers of a company and the mobile devices employees want to use (which are external to the network).
Most MbaaS platforms are heavily focusing on the enterprise market by bringing on-premise storage solutions out into the web. Thus, naturally, MbaaS solutions are concerned with adding a high degree of security to this previously not exposed data so that the APIs created with the MbaaS are as secure as any other SaaS application a company uses in production.
Current state of MbaaS
MbaaS platforms are now well established players, e.g. Mulesoft or RedHat. However there has also been a proliferation of APIs which are a "native" alternative to directly consume the data from SaaS apps. MbaaS vendors therefore focus not just on being a "storefront" for APIs an organization intends to make, but also facilitate processing of data as it passed in-between services within the infrastructure of the organization.
This however is being threatened by simpler tools, like Zapier or Microsoft Power Automate, which have a similar goal but tend to be easier to use and customize by the individual user in an organization.
Mobile Enterprise Application Platforms are just like MADPs, but made specifically for enterprise use cases. Typically when there are more than ~2-3 business cases, backend data sources or devices OS involved in the project, then a dedicated MEAP solution should be considered. Not only are MEAPs always cross-platform, they often already include some form of middleware and client application – all of which is specifically geared towards enterprise requirements for safety, authentication, and distribution through a MDM (as opposed to public app stores).
Current state of MEAP
MEAPs have become the dominant acronym for MADPs that are intended for internal business use cases. This has largely been helped by Gartner releasing several magic quadrant market overviews for MADP and MEAPs combined. However the last such report is a couple of years ago (2018), suggesting the market is largely claimed with less need for the buying audience to distinguish between players.
A rapid mobile application development platform is like a MADP, but with a focus on quick prototyping and app development. This is often achieved by using drag-and-drop style editors with only limited need for custom coding or dealing with complex front-end frameworks.
Current state of RADP
Although ease-of-use is of course still a differentiator between vendors, it is now common that simpler tasks have become more pre-packaged, customizable modules across most MADPs. Therefore the distinction of a RADP has largely gone away.