Enterprise Mobility & Connected Devices Blog

Cross Platform Compilers - Key Tools for Mobile Software Developers

A steady stream of smartphones have been released this summer, we've witnessed the release of several Android based phones (notably the HTC EVO, and Incredible), Apple's iPhone 4, Samsung's Wave, and expect RIM to release several new devices later this summer.  Meego, the merged effort of Intel's Moblin endeavor, and Nokia's Maemo operating system, and new devices based on HP's newly acquired WebOS will also be showing up on a broad range of hardware (tablets, smartphones, and printers in HP's case) later this summer or in late Q3 / early Q4 if things slip. Then of course, there is Microsoft (who can never be counted out), who failed with its Kin phone (a phone focused on "social", and targeted towards a young demographic), but whose long awaited Windows Phone 7 is rumored to be ahead of its scheduled October release date.  Even with this broad range of participants, there are many common demominators that these new devices share - the hardware feature sets are very similar, with variance happening on processor speeds, screen size, user interface, and megapixels to name a few.  Also par for the course for these releases, is updated OSes and SDKs (operating systems and software developer kits), and there's "the rub" ...

While mobility platform vendors such as Antenna Software, and Pyxis Mobile have been providing tools for their customers to seamlessly create native mobile applications (regardless of the mobile operating system(s) they use) - this capability is just a part of the broader solution sets they provide which include data synchronization and integration to enterprise applications.  However, a new class of vendors has emerged that focus solely on cross platform application development, and open the door to a massive population of web developers who may be interested in developing mobile applications, but are challenged by the fragmentation, and complexity of the smartphone market.

"Learning how to Play in Traffic" (Great line from the IBM's Mass Labs Launch back in June)

Only in the white hot mobility space can companies like startups Appcelerator ($6M in venture funding, and ~20 employees), and Rhomobile ($1M in funding, also with ~20 employees) have an impact, and appear on the radar of large mobility vendors as acquisition targets. These firms possess tools that enable traditional web developers to develop native applications using their "traditional" web development skills (HTML, CSS, and Javascript).  Mobile software developers must cope with the reality of an increasingly fragmented mobile device market, and "learn to play in traffic" - with cross platform compilers developers can reach a much broader audience of potential customers, and create native applications for the iPhone, BlackBerry, Windows Mobile, Symbian, and Android platforms (WebOS, Meego, and Windows Phone 7 support is in development).  While "write once, run many/everywhere" is possible, these vendors are also challenged with the steady releases of OS updates, SDKs, and screen size, UI and API variance - bottom line, these companies have made notable progress with their products, and have quickly become important players in the mobile ecosystem (incidentally, these aren't the only two).

Upcoming Research on Enterprise Mobility Applications & Mobile Software Development

VDC will be releasing two mobile software Reports later this month - the Reports will cover mobile application software/middleware, mobile software development, platform, and distribution trends.

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