Most people who are even just a little bit tech-savvy have at least heard the term “mobile cloud computing,” but just what is mobile cloud computing, really? Of course, most of us know that it is a tool allowing business as well as personal users to access their documents, images, files and other types of data remotely over the Internet using their mobile computing devices. This term encompasses a number of mobile and cloud computing applications, though. Essentially, it’s safe to say that any tools described with the term “mobile cloud computing” are used to store and/or process data away from the mobile device itself, while still enabling the user to access it through a given device. If you want an example, just take a look at your smartphone. Chances are you have Google Maps, GPS technology and mobile email applications that have become as familiar as the hand you’re picking up the phone with. So how can you, the business user, benefit from mobile cloud computing? Well, there are many ways, but for starters just consider these top five mobile cloud computing advantages for end users and developers:1. Businesses save money with mobile cloud computing.

By enabling employees and other users to share applications and resources with minimal investment on software and/or hardware, mobile cloud computing tools help reduce capital expenditures. Less technical setup and operations equal lower price structures, plain and simple, whether you’re an enterprise or individual user.

2. Consumers have access to more features on their mobile phones.

Cloud computing has changed the mobile market by making previously unthinkable applications possible, such as location-based social networks and home security tools. There’s no telling what kinds of features we’ll have access to in the near future. The possibilities are endless.

3. Developers reach greater markets through the mobile cloud.

This is due to the fact that all cloud applications go through the same browser and should work seamlessly regardless of the mobile operating system the end user has on their phone or other mobile computing device. While there used to be great challenges in creating applications that worked on every mobile operating system, the newest mobile browsers from the likes of Google and Apple have made access to large consumer markets much more attainable.

4. Developers cut costs and increase revenues with mobile computing.

Not only do developers reach larger markets thanks to advances in mobile cloud computing—they also reduce expenditures while being able to keep a bigger chunk of the profits. Gone are the days when programmers needed to build separate versions of applications for every mobile device and work within the limitations of monopolizing application stores.

5. More new mobile network providers can join the game.

Thanks to mobile cloud computing, the market of mobile network providers has expanded and become a more equal playing field. All sorts of new providers have developed their own mobile cloud computing service offerings. And, as we all know, competition is good for consumers because it keeps prices fair, and it’s also good for the marketplace because it increases the drive for innovation.

While there are clearly many different advantages that have emerged since the advent of mobile cloud computing, there are also some small but persistent challenges that businesses, end users and developers should be aware of before fully embracing this technology. The first and most obvious challenge is that you can only access a mobile cloud application when you have access to a functioning network. Even the most trustworthy of mobile networks will occasionally be unavailable, of course, but developers are already devising solutions to this problem—at least for short-term connectivity losses. As time goes by, it seems that developers should be able to address all the challenges of mobile cloud computing with new and more innovative solutions. This means more advantages are sure to emerge as the technology is further refined. While the mobile cloud still doesn’t quite equal what’s possible on a desktop computer, it’s getting closer with every software update. Thanks to the expanded market, cost and price cutting capabilities and limited hardware requirements of the mobile cloud, it seems that virtually