Earlier this summer, we posed the question of whether or not native mobile applications would eventually be made obsolete by the mobile Web. Many agreed that the power of the mobile Web and cloud over native apps may be an inevitability, but according to a survey released today, four out of five app developers say their customers prefer a native experience. With this demand from customers, which features are they looking for most in a mobile experience? Here are some results from the survey that may surprise you.

The survey, conducted by Appcelerator and the International Data Corporation (IDC), found that of nearly 2,000 developer responses, 91% of them felt a native experience is key to their app's success. Conversely, just 48% said that a Web UI is a critical feature. The next highest ranked feature is having a local database (not a cloud-based database) at 81%, and following that is the use of push notifications at 74%.

In terms of social integration, Facebook and Twitter were the obvious leaders, as 65% and 60% of developers saying they need the networks integrated into their apps. Just one third as many, 22%, said they needed Foursquare - the next highest ranked social network from the survey.

For multimedia capabilities, camera and video functionality lead the way with just over half of the respondents choosing these APIs. Interestingly enough, however, emerging functionality like augmented reality (41%) ranked higher than popular mobile app features like barcode scanning (31%) and Flickr and TwitPic support (21% and 19%). Augmented reality has made significant progress in the mobile space over the last few years, and the results of this survey are a clear indication of that.

Least Desired Features/APIs
  1. Amazon 18%
  2. TwitPic 19%
  3. Flickr 21%
  4. Foursquare 22%
  5. Barcode Reader 31%
    Earlier this month we discussed the phases of mobile application development and what Appcelerator calls the "application maturity model." Many companies begin with basic functionality, and eventually grow into things like e-commerce and monitization solutions as they become more comfortable in the space.

    This trend is also evident in the survey results, as advertising and commerce functionality rounded out much of the middle and latter half of the rankings. Of all categories, Amazon's e-commerce API has the least desire from developers (18%), and Google Checkout is not far behind (33%). On the other hand, 52% selected Apple's iAd, and 48% said they need iOS in-app purchasing functionality.

    For startups looking to enter the mobile market, these trends provide a clue as to what developers have felt are the most critical features to include. Push notifications and geo-location functionality ranked higher than Facebook and Twitter integration. These are statistics young companies could use to better position themselves in the mobile market.