"If Google gains traction with app streaming, [Apple] might have to consider some sort of response," Singh said, speculating that the latter might extend the "peek" feature in iOS 9 on the newest iPhones to deep-linked apps that appear in the results of an in-iOS search using Apple's Spotlight. "I'm not sure if they would be willing to go any further than that."
"I wouldn't be surprised if Apple and Microsoft get on board somewhere down the line," echoed Dawson of app streaming, citing one reason Apple might experiment with the technology: storage space.
"From a storage perspective, [app streaming] would be one way to get around the limitations of some iPhones," Dawson said, noting that Apple has already pushed several initiatives -- the effort overall has been labeled "App Thinning" on iOS 9 -- including app slicing and on-demand resources, to address the small storage allowances on low-end devices. It could pitch app streaming as a further step in that strategy, coming full circle with placeholders on an iPhone leading to streamed apps, much like the 2007 iPhone took users to Web-based apps before the advent of the App Store.
But the row could be hard for Apple to hoe. "More generally, this is about delivering services, something that Apple has struggled with," Dawson said.
Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.