Qualcomm’s Tips on How to Engage the Mobile Consumer

Mitch Oliver Qualcomm

Leading up to our WIPJam, Day for Developers, on February 18th at MWC, we have asked a number of our WIPJam sponsors to write articles for our readers. This week, Qualcomm’s submission is provided by Mitch Oliver, Vice President of Ecosystem Development, Qualcomm Incorporated.

Five Ways to Engage the Mobile Consumer

Consumers have an expectation of control over their content. This paradigm is well established from their desktop experience, and will undoubtedly extend into mobile. Fueled by the prospect of ubiquitous connectivity and increasingly powerful networks, the always connected consumer has the opportunity to be in command of their own experience.

To a consumer, network and device barriers should be irrelevant. To engage them you must consider their content experience holistically, including but not limited to your mobile offering. Your best strategy for differentiation is to integrate your content into their overall experience – only then can you establish loyalty and build an ongoing relationship.

Here are five ways you can make that happen:

1. Create companion content to reinforce loyalty that has already been established. It isn’t always practical to simply replicate an experience for a mobile device. You must serve form to function, allowing users to engage appropriately depending on their current touch point. For example: Watching a reality show on TV, voting online and then keeping up with the participants via a mobile fan application.

2. Make the experience available across multiple screens. Mobility should be truly liberating for the consumer, and this is only possible when their content is available anytime, anywhere. For example: If someone rents a movie on their TV, they shouldn’t have to wait until they get home to finish watching it. That experience should be ready to pick-up where they left off on any connected device.

3. Partner with operators to take advantage of their assets. Operators have a pivotal role in the value chain. Operators spend billions of dollars a year to ensure the quality of their networks – they have value to add to the consumer experience. Operators know their networks and their subscribers — information that can be leveraged to make the experience both contextually relevant and personal.

4. Get your content in front of the right consumers. So many companies are racing to increase the number of applications they offer, but what good is it if consumers are just lost in a sea of content? By uniting their respective expertise operators and developers have the opportunity to deliver exactly what each consumer demands. They can work together to tailor each consumer’s experience, making it meaningful and worthwhile for the individual.

5. Maintain an ongoing relationship, not just a one-time sale. Because content is what really matters to the consumer, developers and brands are in the best position to own the consumer relationship. Use the approaches above as a means to establish a continuing dialog with your key customers.

To learn more about how you can create a better experience for consumers, visit Qualcomm’s ‘Presentation Patio’ within App Planet at Mobile World Congress – Hall 7, Booth C37

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Carnival of Mobilists #210

This week it is Martin Wilson from Indigo102’s turn to provide his take on a week in mobile. Here are some of the week’s highlights: “Location” is the topic for Ajit Jaokar of Open Gardens, who praises Nokia for going back to grass roots and believes Nokia is setting the agenda as an industry leader once again. Praise continues for Nokia as Dennis Bournique, at Wap Review, gives his views on the N900 and describes how he believes it represents the next generation of mobile browsing.
Our own Caroline Lewko interviewed industry veteran Francisco Kattan, from Alcatel Lucent, about the changing shape of mobile development. Kattan gives his views and demonstrates how Alcatel Lucent is firmly focused on supporting developers. This support is evident by their sponsorship of the WIPJam taking place February 18th at MWC App Planet.

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Alcatel Lucent exposes APIs and a Sandbox for Mobile Developer Support

Francisco Kattan, Alcatel Lucent

January 14th was a busy day of interviews for WIP! While Thibaut was in London, UK, interviewing GetJar; I was down in the Bay Area where I stopped by to have lunch with Francisco Kattan, Sr. Director Developer Ecosystem at Alcatel Lucent. I got a little lost and was late, but he graciously took the time to have this interview with me. He is a veteran in the mobile developer space, so I was particularly interested in his advice for mobile developers; but also to find out how a company like Alcatel Lucent, a traditional infrastructure player, was providing new opportunities for mobile developers.

Caroline: You’ve seen all sides of the mobile industry given your experience with Adobe, Openwave and now Alcatel Lucent; what has been the most significant change for mobile developers over the last few years?

Francisco: The last three years started a new era in mobile that elevated the stature of developers in the ecosystem. Devices are finally good platforms for consuming applications, the operator walled gardens are now open, and most importantly developers have access to distribution channels without the need for intermediaries who took a sizable share of revenue. In addition, we are now experiencing a formidable battle among the mobile platforms that although it increased fragmentation, it has created unprecedented competition for developer mindshare. The platform with the most developer mindshare will have a significant advantage in this battle. As a result of these changes over the last three years, developers now enjoy a much more prominent place in the value chain and this is reflected in the more generous revenue shares of around 70%.

Caroline: The concept of ‘mobile development’ and ‘mobile developer’ has changed significantly since Ai (after the iPhone). Developers must to turn to the ‘dark side’ and embrace marketing more than ever. What advice do you have for them about merchandising their applications?

Francisco: You’re right. This new “Ai” era has solved significant issues for developers (i.e. opened distribution channels and improved revenue shares), but it has also created new challenges. This era has created unlimited shelf space making it difficult for applications to be discovered. With tens of thousands of applications in the app stores how do your apps stand out from the crowd? Here is my advice to developers:

Invest in marketing. You can’t rely solely on the app store provider to market your application. Sure, if your app could get promoted on the app store carousel, you’re golden – but there are no clear rules on how to do this. Go back to basics: understand the audience you’re trying to reach, figure out the best vehicles (such as social networks) to reach it, and communicate your value proposition clearly. Watch your analytics and update you app and marketing plans accordingly.

Enrich your app with network capabilities. Don’t limit your app to device APIs. Operators are now beginning to open their networks with APIs that can help you differentiate so you app can stand out. As an example, if your game could bill for ammunition on the operator bill, you’d have an advantage. Many operators are also launching new app stores that are not yet as crowded so your apps can be discovered more easily. Although it’s been difficult for many smaller developers to work with operators in the past, this is an area where Alcatel Lucent can help and I hope we can discuss in Barcelona.

Caroline: Are there too many go to market options for developers?

Francisco: There are certainly a lot of app stores today. While the number of stores will likely consolidate, it’s important for developers to understand their target market and pick distribution channels accordingly. For example, some stores have a bigger presence in some regions of the world, some have more business users, some have more music lovers, and even some target different device types (feature phones vs. smartphones). I think you’ve done a nice job with your WIP App Store wiki to help developers understand the landscape so they can make informed decisions.

Caroline: Given the many different possibilities to create applications and reach a market - how can you and your team at Alcatel Lucent help developers be more effective?

Francisco: Alcatel Lucent makes it easier for developers to work with operators. Whether developers are looking for ways to differentiate their applications or for operator distribution opportunities, we can help. Operators have key assets such as billing, customer profile, location, and device capabilities that in the past have been difficult for developers to reach. We are helping bridge this gap. We help the operators expose these capabilities in the form of APIs and we help developers gain access to them without having to negotiate with each operator separately.

Caroline: Are there specific APIs that you are supporting right now?

Francisco: Yes. Through our cross operator cloud offering we’ve already deployed a set of location and geofencing APIs and many more will come. Unlike device APIs, these APIs support the entire range of devices, not just the high end devices, and don’t require that software be installed on the device. These advantages enable many more applications. We’re also already helping a number of operators expose these and other APIs to their developer communities in several regions of the world.

Caroline: What about the ability to trial applications? Can you tell us more about the Alcatel Lucent sandbox?

Francisco: Yes, we offer a sandbox for developers to develop and test their applications. Our developer portal also offers documentation, tutorials, sample code and support. Unlike other programs, developers can go directly from our sandbox to production without having to negotiate terms or be certified by the operators. Developers simply sign up to the service via our click-through agreement and they are ready to go.

Caroline: Where can developers find you at Mobile World Congress, and what should they ask you about?

Francisco: Alcatel Lucent will have a very prominent presence in Barcelona, as usual. You can find us in Hall 8 (stand 8A147) and also in App Planet (stand 7D61) where we want to meet with developers and show them how they can get involved. We’re also going to be at the WIP JAM, of course. (Francisco is a speaker on UnPanel #2 - Appstore Placement Optimization)

Developers should come to our App Planet stand to see what other developers have already created using network APIs, hear about our upcoming announcements, and discuss how to get started. I’d like to also encourage developers to arrange for meetings with us ahead of time using this link: http://ow.ly/13bJD

Caroline: For those developers that can’t make it to MWC – where can they find additional information about the Alcatel Lucent Developer initiatives?

Francisco: Our developer portal is at http://developer.openapiservice.com. You can also follow us on Twitter and FaceBook.

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Getjar unfolded! - Interview with Patrick Mork

On the 14th of January, just a few days after CES, I interviewed Patrick Mork VP of Marketing at GetJar, talking about the appstore boom at CES, the notion of openness in the appstore world, and the latest developer portal Getjar are launching.  So here’s a quick summary in words… but also the overall interview is available as a podcast, this is the first time we’re experimenting with audio so let us know what you think of it!

Download the whole podcast: podcast2

WIP: CES has seen the launch of numerous appstores (as a reminder the AT&T AppCenter, Samsung Apps TV, Intel AppUp, YourAppshop) do you think the future of  appstores lies in an increasing number of them  in 2010?

Patrick Mork

Patrick: The future of appstores is a bit like throwing a rock in the air, it will likely come and crash down! There’s a rush towards appstores at the moment following the Apple success and the failure of operators in the content space. Runn

ing an appstore is difficult and I predict a majority of them will die in the coming 12 months. Major difficulties in running an appstore lie in the ability to source good content and the ability to control the quality of the content.

Getjar CEO Ilja Laurs predicted that the future of appstore

would be in openness(slide 14). Is this something you’re acting on already?

Openness is about offering consumers the best possible experience. It should be about offering the application that was developed by the person with the best capability to write the content, not necessarily  the company who own and control the appstores. An open ecosystem is about having no barriers in terms of what content gets uploaded on Getjar and not forbidding a browser to be uploaded because there’s already a browser there   :D . Having said that Getjar is very mindful of protecting brands and developers as well as ensuring decency and integrity of content for end users but we do not want to play the role of king makers amongst developers we want to give end-users the choice.

A few other things we do is we do not enforce signing, we do not limit the number of updates, fast and guarant


eed submission time (48 hours)

Getjar recommendations are based on user recommendations and advertising, where does openness fit into this?

Openness can be seen in the fact that recommendations by end-users are the main drivers rather than a skewed recommendation based on a limited number of applications present in your store .

Obviously the recommendation algorithm, (based on reviews, downloads and rating) is not public, there are limit to openness. The second operating principle is advertising which is critical to give developers the chance to promote their apps, in this sense we’re unique not only because we allow promotion but also because the promotion is performance based on a pay per download basis.

So apps are free on GetJar today and on top of that I need to pay for advertising… so how I do I make money?

There’s a misconception in the market today that free means no money, there are quite a few examples there, Opera Mini (paid paid by Google for the search traffic they drive), Flirtomatic (virtual gifts) or games publishers putting free applications on GetJar and selling premium versions of their applications.

The paid for apps model we see as not being the most successful one. The statistics by Flurry  published a few month back shows that the average iPhone apps made $7500 on the appstore, it’s just not enough to make a living.

We shouldn’t forget that monetizing content on mobile is an industry challenge not just a challenge for GetJar. If you compare this with the Facebook economy there hasn’t been a single example in mobile of a developer growing to a multimillion dollar business and making an exit, when Playfish did.

Having said that Getjar will introduce paid for apps in the second half of the year in US and UK (interesting news!!)

Analytics and sharing of information seems to be key to allow developers to make the right development, pricing and distribution choices. How do you position yourself on Analytics?

GetJar developer portal

The new GetJar developer portal (I loved it!)

Analytics are a feature that Getjar provides increasingly more to developers through our new developer portal. Getjar now allows developer to see not only how many downloads you have per country, per device, per operating system but also to compare it with an average of all the applications on Getjar! Getjar also makes available trending on a per device basis and per operating system basis to allow developers to port their apps to new platforms. More importantly we provide opportunity mapping telling you the opportunity you could generate if you were present on certain handsets!You can also see top 20 apps per download per preceding day and week per country!

We believe this is pretty unique and we’d be glad to get feedback during the WIPJam session at MWC.

We will start organizing a weekly series of webinar Getjar to help developers access and use this functionality, and sharing our knowledge around using Getjar to promote your app.

What about malware? (this was recorded just after malware was reported on Android)

Smartphones are more associated with malware and with their current rise the the rise of malware is almost unavoidable.

Appstores are all about balance, ensuring fast approval AND quality insurance.. and this is a difficult balance to reach. At Getjar we guarantee that your app will be on Getjar 48 hours after submission (or at least to get a response) AND we try to maintain quality standards from this perspective we’re pretty unique among Android Market being fast (24 hours) and low quality on one side and Apple Appstore being slow (up to 7 months) and high quality on the other side.

Top countries for January 2010 downloads on Getjar

Country Current Period Previous Period Trend
Indonesia 14,454,167 13,736,562 5%
India 8,661,600 7,774,230 11%
United States 4,817,565 3,815,531 26%
United Kingdom 1,356,746 1,400,482 3%
Egypt 1,280,035 1,216,057 5%
South Africa 1,263,530 1,240,341 2%
Viet Nam 742,146 824,177 10%
Bangladesh 707,025 687,147 3%
Pakistan 691,005 632,533 9%
Turkey 659,932 455,913 45%

GetJar has traditionally been associated with Java devices is the rise of smartphones a bad thing for you?

GetJar stands for APPSOLUTELY EVERYTHING so we’re targeting all handsets wether Java platforms or smartphones.  Developers however shouldn’t forget that Java devices continue to be the majority of phones in the market and the only way for developers to be financially successful is to be cross-platform.

The positive news for developers with the increasing awareness of mobile apps is that it has had a hugely positive impact on the sales of apps on feature phones. As an example we now do about 50 M downloads a month compared to 14 M a year ago, with 50% of business still on Java phones. The US in particular has grown from nowhere on our top list to being number 3 in our download figures, developing markets like India and Indonesia have also grown 2 to 3 times faster than the US market. 25% of our North American consumers download content once a day, and globally the figure goes up to 36%.

Apps Apps Apps so what about the Mobile web, how does it play in your strategy?

Among Getjar users mobile usage we predicted the rise of the mobile web. In a survey done a year ago we saw that 65% of users were using their mobile more than their PC to access the web. We do encourage  mobile web development as we recognize it as a way to overcome platform fragmentation That’s why we introduced mobile  site shortcuts a year back, an icon that’s been downloaded onto the end-user phone and appears as an app even though it’s only a link back to a website. It allows developers to cut on developement costs. Mobile site shortcuts are now 10% of our traffic. Facebook for example  using this has 31M downloads on GetJar twice the amount of they’ve have done on iTunes!

PS: Obviously you’ll notice my somewhat hesitant pace… for my excuse I wasn’t drunk but just interviewing someone at 1AM my time after a flight ordeal…

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Carnival of Mobilists #209

RioCarnival 209Complete with a carnival pic from Rio, Carnival #209 is brought to us by Dennis at WAP Review. It is bursting with great material as always. Here is a small selection of what you will find: “iPad: The (attempted) Windows killer” by Michael Mace; Mobile Mandala’s Mark Jaffe makes a wake up call to the mainstream entertainment business in Mobile Is Not An Island; and an interview with WIPJam Lead Sponsor Ericsson submitted by the WIP Team who are getting ready for WIPJam on February 18th taking place in the new App Planet at MWC. Jam On!

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Ericsson getting ready to Jam at MWC2010

Meet the Ericsson team at WIPJam

Meet the Ericsson team at WIPJam

The Ericsson team will be joining the upcoming WIP Jam session at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. We are scheduled for Thursday, February 18 as part of the new App Planet in Hall 7. We wanted to find out from our Sponsors what Jammers can expect to see and learn from them at the Jam session, so we under took this interview.

1. So who are we going to meet at WIPJam from the Ericsson team?

The Ericsson team that will be participating at WIP Jam will consist of Johan Olander, Jonas Wilhelmsson, Konstantin Zervas, and Elena Fersman. We are working with end-to-end solutions that bring developers and mobile operators together, help developers distribute their applications in an efficient way, and enhance applications with new capabilities.  Konstantin will be part of UnPanel #2: Appstore Placement Optimization taking place from 2:00pm to 3:00pm.

2. Ericsson is not part of the traditional mobile developer landscape and most people would associate you with the infrastructure side. However we have seen a lot of developer focused activities and initiatives from Ericsson lately, what has changed?

It is because of the paradigm shift. We are moving from the closed garden where operator assets were only accessible by a small number of dedicated developers, to the open garden where anyone can build applications based on operator network infrastructure. Ericsson is still focused on delivering network infrastructure, but also on the exposure of these assets to developers in form of easy-to-use light-weight APIs. And now we will also serve as a link between developers and operators with the marketplace and hosted application store that we have built in order to provide an efficient go-to-market channel for developers.

3. Your activities tend to focus on network infrastructure and billing APIs, could you explain how mobile developers can use those to increase their revenues?

Capabilities in the network such as messaging, location and payment bring value to mobile applications. Enhance the application with location and it will sell better. Or include one-click payment into your game and end-users will start to purchase more. Advertising is another way of getting revenue – spread your free application and get paid for the ads that the consumers will see when they launch it. Or come to the Ericsson application marketplace and we will take care of the distribution and retail for you.

4. How do I find out if the operator I want to work with will support these APIs?

Our strategy is to solve this question for developers. We will provide cross-operator APIs so that developers would not need to care about changing the APIs in order to hit specific operator assets. We are working with Ericsson IPX that acts as a global multimedia broker and opens up for cross-operator access to network assets such as SMS and Location.

5. On the technology front your solutions are mostly Java APIs? Correct? If so what solutions do you offer to iPhone or Android developers? (Are those standards on the way?)

It is correct that we have been focusing on Java. Lately, we have chosen to focus on REST APIs so there would not be any problem for iPhone and Android developers. And these APIs will be aligned with GSMA One API standard.

6. However your SDKs address more than just mobile development, do you have any example of applications being developed that use your APIs?

We have many partners that build server-side applications using Ericsson APIs. Examples include home security, gaming engines, and multimedia communication.

7. I see a lot of great activities coming from your Innovation Centre in South Africa. What activities are you involved in encouraging application developers in developing countries and for developing countries?

We run developer events in many countries, often together with mobile operators, in order to increase awareness of the APIs, tools, and go-to-market channel that we offer developers.

8. What is the “thing” from Ericsson that attendees will anticipate and get excited to att WIP Jam?

We have now built a business model to sell your applications via multiple operators all over the world. Submit your application to us and see the money coming in to your account. The applications will be distributed to many countries and operators - already now we can distribute in 17 countries, and more will come. This new “thing” will be launched at Mobile World Congress.

Prior to the WIP Jam session, stop by the Ericsson Booth on the Avenue (AV07) or visit the Ericsson Developer Connection Website.

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Forum Nokia jumps on the scene of the WIPJam @MWC.

Forum_Nokia_03_RGB_strap smallerYes! Forum Nokia is our new lead sponsor for the upcoming  WIPJam @MWC . Forum Nokia joins the impressive list of companies present at WIPJam and at the App Planet.  This year at MWC it looks like Hall 7 is going to be the place to be!

jure sustersic Jure Sustersic, from Forum Nokia will jam with the rest of our speaker line- up on the ”Spready or Sticky Redux”  Unpanel…

And I’m sure Jure and his team will have a few nice devices to show ’round!

Jure manages business development activities in the Nokia developer ecosystem around emerging technologies and innovation. His history with Nokia and developers began as a developer product manager for the S60 platform. Before settling at Nokia he was involved in several internet technology related consultancies, projects and startups. He holds and MBA in High Technology management at Helsinki School of Economics.

Forum Nokia is proud to be a sponsor of this year’s WIPJam Day for Developers during MWC App Planet! During your visit to WIPJam, stop by the Nokia device bar to see the latest Nokia devices and services, and get hands-on demos of innovative mobile apps from leading third-party developers. You will also have the opportunity to speak with experts from Forum Nokia to get answers to your questions and discover how easy it is to develop for Nokia platforms. Additionally, you will learn how to leverage the global scale and reach of Ovi Store to make your content available to the world’s largest market of mobile device users. We look forward to meeting you in Barcelona!

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Carnival of Mobilists #208

Antoine J Wright brings us this week’s Carnival. There are some great articles as always! Check out the submission from MobiThinking on how soccer clubs use mobile to engage fans! Very cool! The Vision Mobile blog on the Smartphone Craze is worth a read! Another interesting read is the blog from Ajit Jaokar on th meaning of mobile to younger users!

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Carnival of Mobilists #207

carnival-masks-2This week’s offering is brought to us by Volker on Mobile complete with carnival masks for carnival season.

Aviv Revach looks forward to the Mobile World Congress and is once again compiling a list of networking events. We know that he has already signed up for our WIPJam taking place on Thursday, February 18 at MWC in App Planet. It is a great networking event for developers and this one is shaping up to be our best one yet! The Carnival also features a WIPJam post written by our guest Malik Saadi, Principal Analyst at Informa. His article explains how the emergence of a fragmented smartphonosphere will make native development incredibly more difficult to scale and thus less and less economically viable and much more.

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Webify my apps?

As a preparation for our discussion group for WIPJam at Mobile World Congress on Getting Cool content from the Cloud, and to follow up on the various discussions on the mobile web we have invited Malik Saadi from Informa to share some of his views and thoughts based on his report Mobile Web Application Developement. In this article Malik explains how the emergence of a fragmented smartphonosphere will make native development incredibly more difficult to scale and thus less and less economically viable and why mobile web development might be the savior for developers and brands alike looking to target larger audiences.

Malik Saadi Informa

Malik Saadi Principal Analyst Informa

Mobile cloud computing will shift applications development to the Web

Despite the proliferation of smartphones and efforts of promoting native development and runtime platforms, Web-based services are emerging as cost-effective challengers that could take application runtime to the Web environment. Not only will this allow the development of cheaper and advanced applications, but it could also shift computing resources and their management from the device to the cloud, which could in turn lower the barriers for enabling advanced applications over non-smartphone terminals.

Smartphones are limiting the appetite for applications development

In recent years, the mobile industry has moved from proprietary to open, allowing for continued improvements in device hardware and more innovation at the application level through the creation of developer communities and application distribution mechanisms. This trend has attracted the majority of device vendors and operating system (OS) developers as well as the mobile operators, which are now eager to offer their own branded app store and subsequently an immersive user experience and advanced mobile applications to their customers. As a result, there has been a strong increase in smartphone OS handset shipments, estimated by Informa Telecoms & Media at 216.3 million units in 2009, up 34% on the previous year. By 2014, sales of smartphones will reach 572.5 million units, representing 40% of total handset sales.

This trend is actually encouraging developers to create applications that are targeted at different OSs and native runtime environments. There are many advantages in developing mobile applications natively, including better integration with the device functionality, high-performance, always-available capabilities, and access to greater support from device vendors through the availability of advanced tools and developer programs.

However, there are also many challenges facing native application developers, which include: code complexity, which could affect the cost of the application development and time to market; application portability across a wide range of devices to achieve economies of scale; and restricted application distribution to operators and OEMs’ channels. Moreover, in the case of Apple, application approval has been a contested topic that has alienated several high-profile app developers from Apple’s App Store.

The fragmentation of OSs, user interfaces (UIs) and runtimes and associated developer programs are also likely to hamper any advantage gained from open mobile applications development. Open OS platforms are often differentiated by their level of support to multimedia and graphical capabilities, network connectivity options, input methods and hardware performance. Chipset manufacturers will find it increasingly difficult to maintain a high-performance and enhanced user experience over different platforms and their associated versions because each platform requires a deep integration with the device hardware and a number of optimization cycles are needed to ensure overall system stability and improved performance. Porting an application to several OS platforms is can be a good reason for failure among independent software vendors (ISVs), but is necessary to achieve economies of scale and reach a wide audience.

Palm Ares, mobile web made easy, Yes! universal?

Palm Ares, mobile web made easy, Yes! universal?

In addition, development tools associated with different OSs often lack the cross-platform approach that could enable the developer to write the application once and distribute it across various devices powered by different OSs. Mobile native application developers are stymied by the extreme difficulty of writing mobile apps for multiple OSs, UIs and runtime environments, especially when there is no clear winner and diversity is just increasing with the mushrooming number of app stores. Then there is the challenge of finding the right placement for this content so that it can be discovered easily by the end user.

Native applications developers also need to bear the cost of testing, certification and distribution of their applications. The majority of OEMs, operators and mobile app store (MAS) owners are imposing their own test and certification programs on developers. Testing fees are based on the complexity of the application submitted and are between US$250 and US$4,000 per submission. If the application is meant to run over variety of devices and terminal platforms, the third-party developer pays the full test fee for one device and gets a rebate for testing the same application on a second device. Additional fees might also be required for network-based applications. In addition, different OEMs and operators have different criteria for application testing in their certification programs. Native applications developers need to comply with these additional programs if they want their applications to reach different MASs and operator portals, which translates into additional cost burdens.

Also, an obvious difference between desktop and mobile native applications is mobile connectivity. Compelling applications should make maximum use of the customer’s mobility, from mobile location services through to interactive games. Simply replicating the desktop experience will not be enough to sustain long-term growth; users will not pay for mobile versions of applications that are available either free or nearly-free on their desktop computers.

Widget vs Native appsFor these reasons, generating native applications that address the long tail of consumer requirements and different consumer groups using various OSs and UIs could be cumbersome, costly and time consuming.

The shift to Web runtime and cloud-based services

The mobile Web applications development environment is an emerging alternative to native applications. This shift is best illustrated by the rush of operators and handset vendors to provide their own widget ecosystems which use Web technologies to facilitate mobile applications development and lower the overall development cost. It could also enable mobile operators and vendors to tap into the wealth of the Internet and address their customers with contextual applications that are more relevant to them.

Until recently, a number of barriers prevented Web-based applications and cloud services from gaining ground in the mobile market, including: the cost of connecting to Web services; the low-bandwidth and latency provided by current mobile access technologies; the bad quality and performance of mobile browsers and related Web technologies; and security issues.

Despite their current shortcomings in terms of performance, power consumption, integration and always-on capabilities compared with native applications, Web applications have many advantages including: faster development, time-to-market and monetization; wider distribution channels; and adaptability for cross-platformization.

There are many changes in the mobile market that are likely to shift applications development to the Web including:

  • The accelerating migration towards mobile broadband services.

  • The dramatic improvement in mobile browser solutions and UIs.

  • The advances of Internet transcoding and multimedia transformation.

  • The emergence of widgets and widget runtimes as efficient solutions for easy content discovery.

  • Deep integration of Web services with the device capabilities and features to enable the creation of contextual applications.

In the past year, several trends have crystallized around mobile Web runtime technology which promise to transform mobile Web applications development, distribution, installation, execution and management. A number of new OSs, including Google’s Android and Palm’s webOS, and a number of mobile platforms, including Microsoft’s Silverlight, Nokia Web Runtime, Qualcomm’s Plaza Mobile Internet, Adobe’s AIR, Access Netfront Widget platform and Opera Widgets, are designed with Web connectivity and functionality in mind. The whole idea is to enable the easy transition of applications development from a native environment to the Web environment.

Widget framework comparisonA number of operators, including Vodafone, Orange, T-Mobile, O2, Verizon, AT&T, KDDI, NTT DoCoMo, Softbank and China Mobile, have already developed – or are in the process of developing – widget stores and Web developer programs that will make the development and distribution of Web applications easier and content discovery and management simpler on the mobile screen. For example, the aim of the Joint Innovation Lab (JIL) initiative – founded by Vodafone, China Mobile, Softbank and Verizon – is to stimulate a new generation of mobile Internet applications around which they can build their service plans and value-added services. JIL’s first project is to develop a widget ecosystem with a single point of access to enable developers to tap into the combined customer base of the four JIL operators – estimated at 1.1 billion subscribers.

The trend towards the adoption of the Web as a mobile applications development environment is likely to intensify thanks to both the emergence of mobile cloud computing and the low latency of the next-generation access networks, which include LTE, HSPA+ and WiMAX.

Informa expects the Web to become the new ubiquitous platform for application development as more and more applications move to the cloud and allow users to access their personal information anytime from any device and over any access network. This trend is likely to remove “smartness” from the device to the cloud, which could potentially reduce the burdens of fragmentation that the native development environment suffers from and spur innovation through the involvement of the much wider Web developer community in creating contextual mobile applications. In addition, this trend will help to shift processing and storage resources to the cloud, which means advanced applications could be accessed by more resource-constrained devices. This could in turn widen the addressable market for the cloud applications beyond the smartphone market.

By increasing the reliance of end users on the Web and cloud applications, new business models will emerge and revenues will be diversified from multiple sources that include advertising, network API charges to third-party service providers and the creation of premium services for the enterprise market. In addition, the migration to a Web development environment could increase traffic around hosted services such as e-mail, VoIP, online office, calendar, online gaming and social networking.

Several device vendors have been pre-installing key widgets in their devices but the trend now is to reorient their software platform strategies towards the creation of widget ecosystems for the development, distribution, lifecycle management, discoverability and monetization of widgets and Web applications in general. These applications are generally easy to create, fast to distribute and serve a plethora of niche markets on the Internet.

Tier-1 operators are also realizing the potential of partnering with Web application developers to enable innovation over their networks, reduce costs related to building data services and build service plans around long tail of consumer applications that target different user groups.

The aim of major operators is to move away from pipe services based on flat rates towards the creation of content-based service plans that will enable them to address different consumer groups with relevant real-time contextual applications and services.

Operators that are not experts in mobile data services, notably Mobile 2.0, have now openly admitted that they will not be able to create these services on their own and expect to employ third parties in the value chain to create best-of-breed services with sustainable business models.

In this context, vendors of mobile widget solutions could facilitate the work of operators by enabling them to bridge the gap between the Web and mobile applications development. These vendors already propose a suite of applications that could include a widget player, idle screen replacement, ODP and a white-label application store. These products could be deployed either individually or as part of an end-to-end widget development, distribution, presentation and monetization ecosystem.

Informa’s report Mobile Web Applications Development looks at various solutions for developing Web applications and widgets, their respective deployment scenarios and the different features that could be requested by operators or OEMs that wish to add mobile Internet and branded services through widgets. Obviously, operators and OEMs have different requirements when choosing a mobile widget solution depending on which market segments and regions they want to address and which services they aim to deploy. The report also looks at the role of mobile widgets in providing a rich mobile Internet experience to help operators and OEMs create new service opportunities, increase customer loyalty and extend the value of their brand to new market segments. It includes a comprehensive and detailed analysis of the revenue opportunities and key trends in widget ecosystems, enabling technologies and the challenges facing operators and OEMs in implementing them.

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