Showing posts with label Wayne Parrott. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Wayne Parrott. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Why HTML5 Enables More Businesses to Deliver More Apps to More Mobile Devices With Greater Ease

Transcript of a BriefingsDirect podcast on using the latest HTML standard to provide a richer user experience on smartphones.

Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes/iPod and Download the transcript. Sponsor: Genuitec. Learn more.

Dana Gardner: Hi, this is Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions, and you're listening to BriefingsDirect.

Today, we present a sponsored podcast discussion on the rapidly changing and fast-growing opportunity for more businesses to reach their customers and deliver their services via mobile applications.

Over just the past two years, the demand for mobile applications on more capable classes of devices, such as smartphones and tablets, has skyrocketed. Now businesses of all sizes are seeing a step change in how they can get into the action.

The means to deliver low-cost applications to these newer devices via app stores and communities also makes the case for small and medium-size businesses (SMBs) to reevaluate their application development and end-user access strategies. This goes for reaching employees, as well as partners, users, and customers.

Perhaps the most impactful element of this shift is that the skills required to put these applications on these devices and distribute them widely is moving from hardcore coders with mastery of embedded platforms and tools to more mainstream graphical and scripting-skilled workers, more power-users than developers.

We're here to discuss how mobile application development and the market opportunity are shifting, and how more businesses can quickly get into the mobile applications game and build out new revenue, share more data, and provide better direct customer access in the process.

Please join me in welcoming our panel on discovering some new opportunities for mobile computing. We're here with Roger Entner, Senior Vice President and Head of Research and Insights in the Telecom Practice at the Nielsen Co. Welcome, Roger.

Roger Entner: Thank you, Dana.

Gardner: We are also here with Wayne Parrott, Vice President for Product Development at Genuitec. Welcome back to BriefingsDirect, Wayne.

Wayne Parrott: Great to be back.

Gardner: Roger, let's go to you first. What is a salient difference now with mobile applications than just a couple years ago? How has this really changed in your eyes, and in your practice?

More computing power

Entner: Well, the devices that we call now smartphones are little computers that today are as powerful as laptops a few years ago. I always say that this little thing you have in your hands, a smartphone, has far more computing power than was used by NASA to put men safely on the moon and bring them back alive.

So, it is the Internet and a computer in the palm of your hand. This really has opened up the whole universe for app development, because you have now all three components. You have the right devices with the ability to provide the right services on the right networks. You have lot of power on the device, a large screen, a good way to input it, and the programming capabilities to do something really neat with the networks to provide a really fast connection.

This is a very nice confluence of factors that have led to this explosion in the palm of your hand called the smartphone.

Gardner: I suppose the form factor here is also changing the very nature of the applications. We're not simply re-purposing desktop applications for these devices. We're actually creating new ways that people can relate to business processes, discovery of data and information, and then join that with such aspects as location services.

Entner: Absolutely. A few years ago, it was a stamp-size screen, and people were trying to pack a 16, 18-inch experience from the laptop or from the computer onto that. It just fell short. It was a recipe for disaster, and people were simply not using it, and you can't blame them for it.

One of the biggest innovations Apple brought was addressing the elasticity of demand.

Now, we have 3- and 4-inch screens that are actually readable. We're not just merely replicating a desktop experience, but actually tailoring it to the device and working with the strengths of the device rather than with the weaknesses.

Gardner: I'm also impressed too with how the business model has shifted so rapidly. People used to want to make money off the application. Now, we're seeing through app stores with Apple devices and Android devices, as well as Microsoft upgrades to their new operating system on the mobile device, a premium model, where [enterprises and smaller businesses] either give-away the app or charge quite a low amount. So, that’s sort of increased this viral uptake of these apps.

Entner: One of the biggest innovations Apple brought was addressing the elasticity of demand. On feature phones today you're still paying $3, $4, $5, $6, $7 for an application, and it has an inferior experience than the one that companies are selling on the iPhone. To no surprise, they actually make a lot more money through the iPhone, because of a lower price point and better experience. A lot more people are buying it than those with an inferior experience.

Gardner: Do you have any studies at your fingertips? We've seen a lot going around recently around these projections of growth for mobile. In many cases, it's really a shift away from PC. A lot of developers are saying, "Wow, I can make a better living making these mobile devices and having that high volume opportunities." Are there any numbers, any projections?

Entner: We're quite active in the mobile applications arena. We just launched our second edition of our Mobile Apps Playbook. But to quote numbers from there, year-over-year second quarter '09 to second quarter '10, smartphone penetration in the US went from 16 percent to 25 percent.

About 50 percent of all devices being sold in the US right now are smartphones. We expect smartphone penetration to be at about 50 percent by the end of next year. Almost 60 percent of smartphone owners are actually using applications. That’s a huge percentage.

At the sweet spot

We're now at that sweet spot, where it makes a lot of sense for businesses to have applications both for their consumers and their employees alike, because there is enough of an addressable base there.

Gardner: The interesting part too for me is that this can scale down as well as up. That is to say, individuals, small businesses, maybe even departments within large companies can start thinking about making their own apps for their own services, because the economics have shifted so dramatically.

Entner: Absolutely. Apple, Google, Microsoft, and the others, have software development kits (SDKs) out there that make app development a lot easier than it has ever been.

If you have a talented developer or a talented person in your department, he might be able to build that internally. Or, there are now myriad development shops out there that have the capabilities to build applications and charge only a few thousand dollars -- and that's single digit thousand dollars -- to have a capable usable application.

There are a lot more people who know how to program these things, and have good ideas of applications. There is a really good market out there to put the two together.

Gardner: Wayne, Genuitec has been focused on development and the developer community for a number of years. Is there anything from what Roger has been telling us that you don’t see? How are you at Genuitec seeing this shift in developer community and interest around mobile apps?

Parrott: We’re seeing a big move toward interest in mobile at the development side. Back to your original question of what are the factors that’s really led to the explosion of mobile apps, is not only the smartphones and their capabilities, but we also look at the social changes in terms of behavior.

People more and more have a higher reliance on their smartphone and how they run their lives, whether they are at work or on the move. The idea is that they are always connected. They can always get to the data that they need.

Basically, we're taking their lifestyle away from their desktop and putting it in their pocket as they move around. More and more, we see companies wanting to reach out and provide a mobile presence for their own workforce and for their customers.

The question they ask is, "How do we do that? We already have a web presence. People have learned about our brand, but they can't access this through their smartphones, or the experience is inferior to what they’ve come to expect on the smartphone."

We're seeing a big growth of interest in terms of just getting on to the mobile -- having a mobile presence for the SMBs.

Gardner: I forgot to consider that if you could become adept with consumer and entertainment applications, they'd want to start seeing that same opportunity for mobility in their business applications. It's almost as if business needs to rapidly catch up to where the entertainment side or even gaming side is. Let's talk a little bit about some of the technologies that support these user interfaces (UIs).

Roger, any sense of any game changing technology shifts? We're certainly talking about the skills moving. I am aware of HTML5 and some other SDK activities. What strikes you as sort of in an important technology shift that is now going to help bring together these communities and this interest?

Trend on both sides

Entner: Well, you have a trend on both sides. One is HTML5, which is slowly but surely approaching. There has been no finalized HTML5 standard [from the W3C], but a lot of web browsers, and even mobile web browsers, have now some HTML5 capabilities. And, it will really help in the development cycle for basic applications.

If we take one little step back, one of the genius things that Apple has done is turn the bookmarks into an application. About 60-70 percent of all applications on the iPhone or an Android are actually glorified HTML ports. So, it's not that difficult or that demanding on the application side.

Where HTML5 will not to be able to help us, at least right now, is when we try to take advantage of location-based services because there is no standard yet. They're still arguing about this one, and especially high performance graphics. But, on the standard application, HTML5 will take us miles forward and diminish the difference between the desktop and the mobile environment.

Then, we have a multi-platform development environments. Adobe Flash is probably the most well-known, and that helps to reduce development time as well. At the same time, all of the SDKs are getting more powerful and more user-friendly. So, it's moving toward a more harmonized and more rapid development environment.

Gardner: Wayne, how about that harmonization process? It doesn’t seem that long ago that mobile development was really hard. It was highly fractured, with many different platforms, many different toolsets, and concerns about network compatibility. The problem was that you had to target specific OSes, and therefore one app wouldn't run somewhere else, or the graphics wouldn't quite fit. So this harmonization and standardization seems to me a fairly big deal?

You still see a strong fragmented programming model base, different operating systems, and different hardware capability. It's still a mess.

Parrott: Absolutely. If you take a look at the current state of native mobile app development, it's really not much better than it was five years ago. You still see a strong fragmented programming model base, different operating systems, and different hardware capability. It's still a mess. You pretty much have to pick a subset of devices that you want to focus on.

What's much more viable now, as Roger was talking about, is the HTML5 standard, which is still in development and emerging. There is enough core already emerging that we could start to program to a subset of that spec and treat it as kind of a common run-time that you would program across pretty much all of the new emerging smartphones as we look forward.

Gardner: Maybe we should back up a sec for our listeners who are in SMBs and who aren't coders or developers. HTML5 is a web-type mark-up language, something that they would be familiar with looking at through their browser. What's changed? What does this mean now for going to a hand-held tablet mobile device of some sort? Wayne, maybe you could take a first stab at that.

Parrott: Prior to HTML5 talking about mobile web was pretty much a joke. Mobile web was an afterthought in the phone market. You had these small, dinky displays. Most of them couldn't even render most standard HTML.

With the advent of the smartphone what you really saw was pretty much the Internet, as you experience it on your desktop, now on to your smartphone, but with even more capability.

Part of it is because HTML5 has stepped back and looked at what the future needed to be for a web programming model. To become more of a common run-time, they had to address some of the key gaps between native hardware, APIs, and web. Much of those have really centered on one of the biggest digs that mobile web had in the old days, when you were doing something, were connected, and then you lost your connectivity.

Out of the box

HTML5, right out of the box, has a specification for how to operate in an online, offline, or disconnected type mode. Another thing was a rendering model, beyond just what you see on your desktop, that actually provides a high-end graphics type capability -- 2D, 3D types of programming. These are things that more advanced programs can take advantage of, but you can build very rich desktop type of experiences on the laptop.

Then, they went beyond what you're used to seeing on your desktop and took advantage of some of the sensors that these phones have now -- accelerometers, location capability, or geolocation. APIs are now emerging as a companion to HTML5, which is a spec that will span across your desktop to the mobile phone. It's a very capable specification.

In addition, there is the movement in terms of the standards body, especially the W3C, to address mobile device API. You will eventually program in a standard way and talk to your contacts list, your cameras, video, recording devices, and things like that. That will soon be available to us in a web programming model.

What used to be exclusively the demand of the hardware API guys to do really low level, high performance bit twiddling is now going to be available to the general web programming masses. That opens up the future for a lot more innovation than what we’ve seen in past.

Gardner: Roger, you pointed out that this HTML5 is not fully baked, but there are some very powerful big players involved who are supporting it. That would include Apple and Google. Is this a question of if HTML5 becomes dominant or pervasive, or is it a matter of when?

HTML5 will come, and the excitement that you see is expressed by so many companies.

Entner: It's only a matter of when and a little bit around the edges of how. HTML5 will come, and the excitement that you see is expressed by so many companies. Apple and Google are at the forefront and are already launching websites and services in it. You can get HTML5 YouTube, HTML5 Google, and even Yahoo mail access. You can have the Apple website in HTML5. It just depends on what is fully supported right now.

Some browsers support it, and some don't yet. On the mobile side, it also fully depends on what is supported. If you have the WebKit engine at the core of the browser that your device is using, HTML5 is pretty widely supported. If your browser uses another engine, it's a little bit more difficult.

We're at the moment of emergence of this, and so the implementation is not fully baked, but there is so much excitement that people want to get going rather than wait for the standards to be finalized.

Gardner: I think it's important with these devices and their interfaces, especially the tablet. People are looking to video and full media as a way of doing more than simply watching the news. This is really becoming part of our culture, the way people relate, taking steps from social media. The thing with HTML5 is that it supports that video without the plug-ins, without worrying about compatibility. This kind of levels the playing field on the full media. Is that your take as well, Wayne?

Parrott: Absolutely. Definitely.

Innovative model

Gardner: So, the goal here is to make this available to more people and more companies. There is a very interesting, innovative model potential here for small companies or, as I said, divisions within companies, branch offices, perhaps by geography. You don't have to go through IT and get into a long line waiting for development of an application. The office, perhaps in another geography or language environment could go out, create their own mobile app, and reach their customers very quickly that way.

Let's get back to this notion of simplified creation, design, and deployment. Wayne, what have you been doing with MobiOne in Genuitec, in particular, to try to hasten this to take advantage of this need in the market?

Parrott: We've been watching HTML5 and the whole movement -- the social desire across a number of small businesses to be on the mobile web, to have a web presence out there. As we've talked to more-and-more of our SMBs, one thing that stands out is that they don't have a lot of resources. They don't have a huge web department. Their personnel wear a number of hats. Web development is just one of n things that one of the individuals may do in one of these organizations.

At Genuitec, we developed a product called MobiOne Studio. The target user is anyone who has an idea or an vision for a mobile web application or website. MobiOne is geared to provide a whole new intuitive type of experience, in which you just draw what you want. If you can develop PowerPoint presentations, you can create a mobile web application using MobiOne.

You lay out your screens, you pane them all up, and then you wire them together with different types of transitions. From there, you can then immediately generate mobile web code and begin to test it either in the MobiOne test environment, that's an emulated type of HTML5 environment, or you can immediately deploy it through MobiOne to your phone and test it directly on a real device.

One of the challenges you have right now with HTML5 and the mobile web programming model is that it is typically not accepted in most of the app stores.

Gardner: And, Wayne, how would that then work toward some of these app stores and particular devices? How do you take that added step particularly, as you point out, these organizations are without a lot of resources? How would they get this out into the mainstream? What's the distribution and deployment next step?

Parrott: Well one of the challenges you have right now with HTML5 and the mobile web programming model is that it is typically not accepted in most of the app stores. Let's just talk about the Apple's App Store as an example. Mobile web applications in their straight HTML5 form are not accepted yet in the app store.

We expect to see that relaxed in the future, but at this point in time, you really are restricted. So, the iPhone App Store is not available to you. It's really restricted, so that you have to jump through some hoops that Apple has set up in the past.

With HTML5, you can go directly to your customers. You can market to them directly. It depends on your way of interacting with your customers, but we have seen a number of novel approaches already from some of our customers. When any customer is in your store, you make it very easy for them to access your site, to make them aware of your mobile capabilities, lure them in, and get them connected that way.

But looking beyond the restrictions you have right now, with MobiOne Studio we recognized that the first thing that most companies want to do is just mobilize, just get a mobile presence, mobilize their websites, and have that capability. As Roger said a while ago, a lot of the apps you see out there are really glorified mobile websites and are packaged up in a binary format.

Second phase

In MobiOne Studio's second phase, once you design and you like what you have, you have a progressive step that you can go from a very portable form to compile it down -- or cross-compile -- from HTML5 to whatever the native requirements are of that particular target app store. So, Google will have their app store, and Apple and RIM each has their own model. They are all fairly different models.

One last thing that we are keeping a really close eye on is the mobile widget standard. It basically specifies what a mobile web app looks like and what the packaging model is. That's already respected by RIM and some of the other smartphones out there. Apple doesn't support it yet, but, fingers-crossed, they'll join the masses at some point, and we'll have a standard packaging deployment model in the future for the iPhones as well.

We're keeping an eye on it and we're filling those gaps based on what your target app store is.

Gardner: We’ve already discussed how we've come a long way in reducing the fractionalization within the mobile side, but it sounds as if we're looking to join a bit more of what happens in the web experience on a full-fledged PC with what happens in the web experience on a mobile device.

Back to you, Roger. Do you see this actually merging in some way? One of the guesses out there at this point is that iOS is going to be a bit more compatible, that is to say, your experience on the desktop and the mobile device become more common. Is it your future outlook that these things are going to start not only to consolidate in the mobile space, but consolidate across all types of devices connected to the web?

Entner: Yes, because when we look at fourth generation networks, LTE or WiMAX, they are flat IP networks. When you look at that, it basically allows you to have the same service. Your user experience only changes with the terminal you added at the end and the speed of the connection.

With mobile it's mobility and location awareness, whereas with the PC, it will always be raw speed through fiber and storage capability and screen size.

What we're seeing now is this increasing trend of a harmonization or at least integration capability of different OSes with their mobile counterparts. Then you can have everything from the Internet -- and we've seen it already today -- to applications, even like IPTV, streamed to your device. Only the speed changes or impacts how quickly you get it and what kind of resolution there is. If you look at Uber’s mobile from AT&T, it is already providing that.

We're seeing this congruence that’s happening. You try to play to the strength of the device that you have. With mobile it's mobility and location awareness, whereas with the PC, it will always be raw speed through fiber and storage capability and screen size. You're going to increasingly tailor to the strengths of the devices, rather than do one size fits all.

Gardner: Back to you Wayne. This is an interesting outlook for the future, because as we have that congruence and harmonization between web experience across multiple devices, this really also simplifies what can be done by developers and designers in terms of exploring new innovative business models, intercepting business processes and data based on that, the optimum part of a process timeline or more milestones, rather than where you happen to be, where you have to be at certain device or to intercept.

That’s a long-winded way of saying, can we start to see designers and UI-focused developers or scripters now having much more of a role in how business applications and processes can be designed and even improve iteratively over time?

Back to the desktop

Parrott: Yes. The influence that we are seeing already from the smartphones back to the desktop. The expectation, the experience, in the past has been a desire to have kind of that rich feel user type of experience moved back over to the desktop. So, we're seeing some influence there already.

Also, if you look at what HTML5 presents, not only is it becoming a common runtime on the smartphones, but it also represents a very viable development model on the desktop as well.

It's a portable standard. It wasn't originally designed for smartphones -- smartphones just embraced it first. We're definitely expecting to see a lot more influence by parties in the past that were really more kind of downstream, when they were being brought in upfront to talk about what's possible, when you start looking at the flow and the interaction with users, because things are becoming much more about the user experience.

To keep users engaged on the desktop in the past, you could take your workforce, lock them down, and give them some kind of boring app. But, we're seeing the temperament change now, as people have learned what’s possible. We’re asking what’s possible on the business side as well.

Gardner: I can see where this could really flip the development market altogether, because I might want to primarily design and develop and target mobile classes of devices, and then make it easier for me to then support the full-fledged PC through an HTML5 browser.

We think HTML5 is really the entry point to changing and moving everybody over to pretty much a web ubiquity.

I also might start developing on the server as a more sophisticated, say Eclipse-level Java developer, and start making sure that I output in HTML5, almost primarily. Then, I can cut across these different environments, reduce complexity significantly, and start to maybe get more agile, more swift, in how I do my server-side development as well. Any thoughts on that, Wayne?

Parrott: Definitely. That’s one thing we expect to see down the road. Again, it’s going to take a while for it to run it's course, because there are so many other competing technologies that have the incumbent technologies, Java or Microsoft’s desktop technologies, but companies for a long time have wanted to see a more capable portable web type model. It’s just got so many more benefits and we think HTML5 is really the entry point to changing and moving everybody over to pretty much a web ubiquity.

It’s going to be all by HTML5 in the future, at least when you talk about the client side, the UI that users are going to interact with as we move forward.

Gardner: I am afraid, we have to wrap it up. This brings this full circle back to how dynamic this marketplace is. Last word to you, Roger Entner. Thinking about the opportunity here, is now the time for these small businesses, almost any kind of business, to rethink how they relate to their environment, their end users, and perhaps get a bit more aggressive in thinking about mobile as a real important part of their business.

Entner: Yes. Now, 25 percent of wireless users have smartphones in their hand, and that’s basically increasing to 50 percent by the end of 2011. Now we have that critical mass that allows companies still to have an early move or advantage. If the companies wait another year or two, they will be laggards in the market and their competition will probably have put something out already and gained a valuable lead over that. So, it’s now where they still can show that they are leaders in their segment, if they haven’t done anything yet.

Gardner: Wayne, if folks were interested in trying to learn more about HTML5, the difference between different devices and web development to ameliorate the complexity, MobiOne Studio, and some other technologies Genuitec is working on, what would you suggest they’re doing to get started?

Parrott: Yeah, I would suggest, visit the site, you can find all about MobiOne, download it, try it out, it’s very intuitive, you just install it to spin it up. You immediately are in the process of building HTML5 mobile app that you can then test and deploy, send it to your friends.

Gardner: What’s your pricing model, do you have a premium model on that? How does that work?

Parrott: Right now it’s priced right at $99 per user.

Gardner: Very good. Well, we’ve been talking about mobile application development and the market opportunity and how that’s all shifting, and how more businesses can quickly get into mobile applications and start building out new revenue, data sharing, and business process values to just about any user, just about any place nowadays.

I want to thank our guests. We’ve been here with Roger Entner, Senior Vice President and Head of Research and Insights in the Telecom Practice at the Nielsen Co. Thanks so much, Roger.

Entner: Thank you for having me.

Gardner: We’ve also been joined by Wayne Parrott, Vice President for Product Development at Genuitec. Thanks, Wayne.

Parrott: Great being here today. Thank you.

Gardner: This is Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions. You've been listening to a sponsored BriefingsDirect podcast. Thanks for listening, and come back next time.

Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes/iPod and Download the transcript. Sponsor: Genuitec. Learn more.

Transcript of a BriefingsDirect podcast on using the latest HTML standard to provide a richer user experience on smartphones. Copyright Interarbor Solutions, LLC, 2005-2010. All rights reserved.

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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Rise of WebKit Advances Mobile Web's Role, Opens Huge Opportunity for Enterprise Developers on Devices

Transcript of a BriefingsDirect podcast on new technologies and approaches that leverage the mobile Web for designing Web applications for hand-held and other mobile devices.

Listen to the podcast. Download the podcast. Find it on iTunes/iPod and Learn more. Sponsor: Genuitec.

Dana Gardner: Hi, this is Dana Gardner, principal analyst at Interarbor Solutions, and you're listening to BriefingsDirect. Today, we present a sponsored podcast discussion on bringing enterprise applications effectively out to mobile devices.

This complex subject has required some harsh trade-offs from developers in the past -- trade-offs between rich, native applications targeted at specific devices, versus standardized mobile application approaches that have simply failed to impress users.

Such trade-offs have also limited the ability of Web developers to take their full PC browser applications out to the mobile tier without losing powerful features, or finding that the transition to smaller form factors just doesn't hold up. Yet, a new day might be dawning on the ability for enterprise developers to make the mobile leap.

Thanks to the sizable impact that the Apple iPhone and its WebKit browser have had in the market, the mobile device competition is responding. It's sniffing out new business opportunities around application stores, selling application by application, and the mobile commerce implications of that as well.

We're also seeing advertising creep into the mobile tier. All of these trends and effects are mounting now for development to increase and for more applications to find their way out to these devices. Also, such developments as HTML 5, Android, and advances in scripting and open source tools have made the mobile Web suddenly more attractive and attainable for mainstream development and developers.

So, we're going to look at how the development field for mobile Web applications is shaping up and how targeting the modern mobile Web browser may be removing some of the harshness from the trade-offs of the past over form, function and unsatisfactory standards.

To help us unpack the mobile Web, we're joined by our panel. First, I'd like to introduce Stephen O'Grady, founder and analyst at RedMonk. Welcome, Stephen.

Stephen O'Grady: Hey, Dana.

Gardner: We're also joined by Wayne Parrott, vice president for product development at Genuitec. Hi, Wayne.

Wayne Parrott: Hi, there. Great to be here.

Gardner: And also, David Beers, a senior wireless developer at MapQuest. Welcome, David.

David Beers: Thanks. Good to be on, Dana.

Gardner: Let's start first with Stephen at Redmonk. You've been following these issues for quite some time. Why have the mobile Web and mobile applications become so important now?

O'Grady: It's really for a number of different reasons. We have better wireless options than we've had in the past. Wireless pricing is more conducive to adoption. In addition, we've seen, just within the past 12-18 months, a real revolution in terms of the adoption of applications, largely due to the success of the iPhone platform, which just recently sold its billionth application.

The success there is again due to the environmental and contextual factors, but also the success in the design of the device itself, in which we finally have a real Web browser. In your introduction, you mentioned WebKit, which is the foundation for the browser. Obviously that's on the iPhone platform.

For the first time, users have a real Web experience, as opposed to a stripped-down, bare-bones site in terms of what they can experience via the mobile Web. We need to pair the environmental and contextual factors with the advances that we've seen in the devices themselves. They've all come together to give us a rich and deep experience that will allow us to do things that we haven't been able to do before with the devices.

Gardner: We're also seeing some economic factors, given the tough economy. When you see the success that a little game application can have and how engaging it can be, I think the enterprise bean counters

When you're an enterprise vendor or a consumer vendor looking to target a volume audience, the fact is that, there are a lot more mobile devices than there are desktops and laptops.

say, "Wow, why can't we bring some of our applications down to that same tier, but at a much lower price point and perhaps out to a much wider user base -- either employees or partners, or even end-customers?"

O'Grady: The user base is one of the important factors. Certainly, the pricing in the applications is very conducive to adoption. In other words, if it's a couple of dollars an application, as Apple has proven with its iTunes store and BlackBerry has attempted to duplicate, we're seeing real low barrier to entry price points. This will spur adoption of the individual applications themselves.

When you're an enterprise vendor or a consumer vendor looking to target a volume audience, the fact is that, there are a lot more mobile devices than there are desktops and laptops. There are mobile devices all over the planet.

You were mentioning economics. The economics are an excellent indication of one trend that we're seeing recently, with handhelds and the so-called netbook category of subnotebooks or ultra-light machines. We're seeing these devices repurposed, utilized, and leveraged in areas that we haven't seen them before.

For example, a lot of folks who might have traveled in the past and had applications like Siebel built into their laptops are now very often using those in a handheld or, in some cases, a netbook. So, economics, in terms of the application price and the volume audience that can be targeted is a big factor.

Gardner: I suppose that Metcalfe's Law kicks in to some degree. The more people on the network, the more people that can be involved in a business process, particularly in real time, the more powerful the process, and the more powerful the network.

O'Grady: You've got it.

Gardner: Let's move on to this issue about fragmentation. As Stephen pointed out, we still have many, many devices. This is by no means 1982 with MS-DOS as the single platform to be concerned with. We still need to work out a great deal of fragmentation on the mobile tier.

Let's go to David. You're a developer in the mobile tier. How does an organization like MapQuest handle this whole issue of so many choices on that endpoint?

Beers: It's both a problem and an opportunity. From a developer's standpoint, and I am a developer, it's obviously difficult, because the amount of energy that you put in is divided across all of these different platforms. You have to make difficult decisions about developing the features you want with the resources you've got and perhaps limiting the targets that you're able to reach, as far as devices are concerned. Or, you may be faced with, partly because of resource constraints and partly because of the need to try to fit across the lowest common denominator, releasing apps that aren't as powerful or as functional as you'd like them to be in order to get that reach. That's a difficult thing.

On the positive side, fragmentation is a pejorative term that we use for differentiation. It's painful for developers, but we can't pretend that it's all a bad thing, because it's really driven by rapid innovation. A lot of the fragmentation that we see out there is because we've got these capabilities now on handsets.

So many of them have GPS, for example, which is a huge opportunity for MapQuest. We would definitely want to be able to leverage those capabilities. As Stephen was saying, part of this uptake in application usage is because the technology is getting better. So, you've got to go to where that improvement is.

Gardner: So, we have choices and trade-offs, but we also seem to have some coalescing around a better path. Why don't we go to Wayne? Tell us how you see the improvement, now that we've identified the problematic past. How do you see things improving?

Parrott: Looking back, things have been a pretty big mess on mobile for the whole. You kicked off by talking about some of the improvements in the smarter phones and the capabilities they bring in, both higher-end horsepower on the smartphones and a much better browsing experience or engine now showing up on the iPhone-class machines. The programming model that is now available enables a whole new class of Web-type applications, which, in the past, has been reserved for native applications.

Going back to talking about native, again, the fragmentation issue pops up. As you start to move forward with the WebKit-type browsers now more prevalent on these smarter phones, it's starting to represent a more common platform that we have a choice to target our application functionality toward.

Gardner: So, perhaps this goal of being able to "write once, run once" doesn't really work, given the variety of devices. "Write once, run anywhere" doesn't work, because of the differences in the native approaches. So, we're stuck with "write many times, and run many places."

It's got to be better than that, though! How do we manage and make that a bit more amenable from a technology and a business perspective? Again, I'll take that to Wayne.

Parrott: Obviously, recognizing the advances in the platform itself and being able to take advantage of the mobile Web capability of the newer iPhone class machines is something that has caught a lot of enterprises' attention. Before, they were scared off by the prospect of the cost of going native and the fragmentation issues around that.

Going back to focusing toward mobile Web and the WebKit browsers gives them the opportunity to start to look at their existing resources and their know-how, in terms of what they've been doing in the past as far as Web. They can ask, "What's the gap that I have to close, in order to repurpose and retarget my resources, my content, services toward reaching people where they are now?" More and more people are living mobile. So, what is it you have to do?

They're quickly starting to realize that the new smartphones are giving them a great new capability, and it's not that big a gap that they have to cross over in order to be able to reach users in a much more cost-effective level by focusing on the capabilities that the mobile Web gives them.

Gardner: Stephen, where do you fall on this? Do you see that the developers are going to be making the choices that winnow down these variables, or are the market, the technologies, and some elephants in the room, like Apple, going to make these standards for them?

Target the largest market

O'Grady: In large part, developers will be making the choice, and they'll be making the choice largely based on volume. In other words, whether you're a third-party application developer or an individual developer just putting out an application on your own, you want to target the largest market.

Now, there are exceptions to that. For example, even if the BlackBerry store is much smaller, in terms of the number of users, than the Apple Store, it will have a guaranteed, built-in audience simply because of BlackBerry's strength within the enterprise. Enterprise application developers might target that at the expenses of the Apple's iTunes store, but, ultimately, much of it will be determined by volume.

It's kind of a chicken and egg situation, because application volume is a function of the platform success and vice versa, but ultimately, the platforms that are successful will be determined by volume.

The difficult part here is that whether we're talking native or Web apps for the phone, it's still a fragmented market. The native clients, whether it's an Apple, a BlackBerry, or a Nokia device, are not going to be the same application. It's certainly not "write once, run anywhere," even for the Web. We have different versions of WebKit being employed for the different platforms. If the Mozilla folks are successful in making Fennec a real presence alongside of WebKit in one or more of these platforms, then we'll have fragmentation even at the Web space level.

So, fragmentation is going to be the status quo. That will carry into the future, but success will be determined largely by platform volume.

Gardner: Okay. So, volume is one major force in the market, but we are seeing some innovation technically,

It's kind of a chicken and egg situation, because application volume is a function of the platform success and vice versa, but ultimately, the platforms that are successful will be determined by volume.

and often the best approach for productivity that feeds that volume beast ends up winning. Let's go to David. We've seen developments around HTML advances, scripting language, and open source. From your perspective as a developer, what is getting you out of bed early Monday morning to get into work, when it comes to some of these new technologies?

Beers: I can tell this from the context of how things have evolved at MapQuest. We're a company that grew up on the Web, one of the first Web applications to hit the Internet back in 1996. It wasn't too surprising that we started on the mobile web with WAP technology, the early version of the mobile web. We've been pretty successful with that project within certain limits, but it's definitely been a least common denominator type platform, and it's been difficult to move that.

Gardner: WAP is Wireless Application Protocol (WAP), right?

Beers: Thank you, yes, and it's been a little bit of a silo for us. In other words, you can't really take a WAP website and evolve that very easily into an iPhone-class device, as Wayne is talking about.

Gardner: How long have you been grappling with this? As you say, you were early to the Web. How early have you been to mobile? It seems that when someone is traveling, they're not stuck at a desk, and the more value you can add to them. Right?

Beers: Mobile has been something that's been part of MapQuest right along. It comes in the nature of our business, which is getting people from A to B. So, it's intrinsically mobile oriented.

A lot of what we've been doing in the last couple of years has been developing what we've been calling native applications here. We've talked a little bit about some of the pain of that.

As to the question of HTML 5 and how this changes the picture for companies like MapQuest, we're beginning to see that these capabilities make it so that we can take technology that powers the website that people use on their desktop and repurpose that very quickly to provide a beautiful and powerful Ajax Web experience on modern smartphones.

An easy migration

We found that, considering the amount of development and energy that's gone into making our native applications, and has gone into the mobile website that we have out there right now, what it took to get a great application on the iPhone was minimal. It was very impressive.

A lot of what has made it so intriguing for us is the fact that we're doing real Ajax here on the devices. So, for the problems that have been around with Web apps, which are compounded when you're talking about a mobile network with a huge latency and everything, you really have tools to be able to handle those situations and provide a lot better user experience. It's finally starting to make sense as a Web application.

Gardner: Clearly if you peruse the Apple's App Store, as I like to do, we're seeing quite a shift. The games being promenaded first, but all of a sudden, we're seeing content providers, Web-service providers, and portal providers all coming out with their iPhone version. It doesn't seem like it was that difficult for them. Maybe it's not quite the same full set of features, but it's pretty darn compelling.

Beers: I think so. You asked me what really gets me up in the morning. The other piece of this is, looking at that difficult trade-off we have right now, HTML 5 seems to bring another possible answer to that trade-off.

It's not just a mobile Web story. We see companies like Palm coming out with essentially native application environments that use those

One way you can look at this, as far as where things will go, is you're starting to see phones that essentially will have two tiers on them.

tools for the presentation layer. That brings up all kinds of very interesting and productive new models for releasing essentially a native application that has really rich access to the underlying features on the device -- things like GPS and the accelerometer. That's also a very exciting application model for companies like MapQuest to look at.

Gardner: So, as a developer, it seems that, while it could be quite difficult, the best of these worlds would be to be able to take advantage of a certain set of native functions and specifics to a handset or even a carrier, but, at the same time, leverage what you can across the Web, in terms of Web services and the ability to mash up and take advantage of some of the rich Internet application features. How do you see that hybrid possibility evolving?

Beers: It's going to be very interesting. We're starting to see, with the Palm Pre and webOS, the first signs that this is going to be a new way that applications will be released.

You see another example with the Sprint's Titan platform, which hasn't had a lot of attention in the media. WebKit may actually be a piece of that story that's going to make you hear a little bit more about that.

One way you can look at this, as far as where things will go, is you're starting to see phones that essentially will have two tiers on them. You're going to see developers having a choice to say, "Do I want to be operating completely in JavaScript and exercise my skills there in the WebKit environment, or do I want to have some of the application logic below that, perhaps in a Java environment, where it's essentially being a local server on the device for the presentation layer on top?"

You start to combine those things, and it allows all kinds of different components that are out there and that have been driving the innovation in the Internet to come into play on mobiles in ways that we haven't seen before.

Gardner: Stephen, do you concur with that? Do you think we're going to see the equivalent of a distributed, multi-tier capability at this mobile-device endpoint?

Taking a different approach

O'Grady: Ultimately, we'll get there, and the Palm Pre is a great example, because Palm is taking a different approach to application generation. Undoubtedly, we'll see the hybridization of both Web and native features.

To some extent, we can see some signs of where this will head. Think of the iPhone and the ability of WebKit to automatically reformat due to the gyroscopic functions that are contained in the handset. A Web page can automatically resize itself if the handset is tilted one way or another. We'll see a lot more development like that, which combine the present Web applications with native abilities of the handset, and GPS probably is the most obvious example.

At present, however, the development story is still, generally speaking, one or the other. I don't think that we're there yet.

Gardner: It certainly sounds like an opportunity for the tools people. Let's take this over to Wayne at Genuitec. Coming from a Java, Enterprise, and Eclipse heritage, you're used to complexity. You're used to dealing with difficult integration problems, where developers are accessing assets and resources from a variety of different background technology sources. What do you have in mind for the tools aspect of what we've been discussing in the evolution of these mobile apps?

Parrott: Let me just echo what Stephen was talking about. We were talking about what will come in the future in terms of the hybridized,

One of the forces driving us has been enterprise organizations that want to move to the Web. They're being driven by their own workforce.

blended Web device-type programming model. Where we're at right now is that it's a binary decision. It's native or Web, for the most part, and the Web model is the lowest barrier to clear in order to go native.

Before we jump in and say, "Hey, mobile Web is it," I like to take the approach that, you can pick the right tool for the right problem or the right technology for the right problem. For anybody interested in mobile web, the first thing they should do is educate themselves and learn about what's out there.

If you're interested in mobile Web, Genuitec provides educational resources and a lot of good references. Again, the Web is replete with a lot of emerging information about mobile Web strategy, and we tie that together with our own experience.

Gardner: Let me be sure I understand. So are you talking about how to take an existing Web developer and train them to transition to the mobile Web, or are we talking about getting people native-ready for the mobile Web, almost from a starting blocks position?

Parrott: Obviously, one of the forces driving us has been enterprise organizations that want to move to the Web. They're being driven by their own workforce, sales staff, etc. I'm not thinking so much blue-collar, but white-collar staff that's very mobile, and wants to have a high connectedness, basically they want to run their businesses through their smartphones.

What they're pushing us for is, "How do we get there from here?" They already have a lot of their own infrastructure and resources in place, but moving that to the mobile Web has been a challenge for them.

First step: education

First, they need to be educated about what it takes to get there, looking it through, and evaluating their own resources. David mentioned the Ajax model, HTML 5, and the mobile Web model. It's not a static content type model. So, your traditional static Web developer needs to have some skills and awareness that it's much more functional. It's not just static data, but it's functional.

You have what we call the mobile Web programming model so that you can now build some very sophisticated functionality that you run directly in the browser. You have to be educated about what you want to run local. Do you want to serve static content or do you want to push functionalities directly to the particular smartphone device?

We're servicing both -- helping educate and provide tooling and educational services for both Web developers and traditional enterprise developers -- Java developers who are moving over, bringing their programming know-how and experience, and applying that to dynamic Web applications.

Gardner: It sounds like some path we've already been on. If you have a set of Java developers and you have a set of Web developers, how do they come together to form some sort of an alignment for the delivery

You have to be educated about what you want to run local. Do you want to serve static content or do you want to push functionalities directly to the particular smartphone device?

of these modern applications? That shouldn't be too different when you take them out to the mobile tier. Right?

Parrott: Definitely not, but at a higher level, an organization just needs to understand, how much and what kind of functionality they actually want to push out to the mobile Web. It's really our overall strategy.

Gardner: Right! There are architectural and network considerations that are unique.

Parrott: Correct. You have to remember that you're running on wireless networks. It's not running at Wi-Fi speed necessarily. There are things you have to take into account, as you work through the total end-user experience that you're targeting and then focus on what kind of developers have the experience to build and create that type of experience and delivery for your customers.

Gardner: What about Eclipse? What are some things going on there, some projects, interesting developments and innovation? We've certainly seen a lot of interest in OSGi over the previous year or two. What is the bearing that some of those activities have on moving out to mobile development?

Parrott: I can talk very specifically to one of the projects that Genuitec is heading up. It's called Blinky. The focus with the Blinky Project is to create a mobile-Web development platform. The concentration has been in two areas, both to provide frameworks for building tools that developers could then use for creating really compelling Web applications and also user interface (UI) frameworks or rendering frameworks.

You can think of these as themes. If you want to build a Web application and have it have an iPhone type look and feel, it's easily possible with the HTML 5 technologies. But, your starting point is to work with an existing UI framework that can help you create that kind of end-user native experience.

So, we're working on those two aspects. That's all of part of the open source. If anybody is not aware, Eclipse is a platform for building both tools and run times, and we're focusing mainly on tooling and the UI development in terms of the Blinky Project.

Gardner: Let's go over to the developer. Dave, this open-source development, I assume, is something you've been involved with, as a user, or perhaps a contributor as well. Tell me a little bit about the role that open source has in your mobile development, and then, if you're familiar with OSGi, does that hold any interest for you?

The benefits of open source

Beers: First of all, open source is very important to us from many different directions. We're using a lot of open-source tools. In my time as a developer, I've also had a chance to contribute to a lot of open-source projects, including Eclipse, and then kind of eat my own dog food. It's hard to be a developer these days and not be enjoying a lot of the benefits and productivity that come from the existence of open source.

OSGi is a particularly interesting area for me, and I think it may be becoming more important now with Oracle's acquisition of Sun, because it's really bringing about a new component model for Java, in particular. Part of this problem of fragmentation that we're talking about has to do with the fact that we deal so often, at least in Java applications, with these static stacks. We've got these configurations. We've got profiles. We've got all these optional packages in mobile Java.

OSGi presents the possibility of being able to have just the right stack for what you need and not to worry so much about whether the capabilities are there natively in the phone, because you can add them as a developer.

The idea of OSGi being a component model that's underneath, something like that WebKit layer, is an extremely powerful combination. There you've got standards at both of those layers that I was talking about. I'm very hopeful about seeing that evolve. I agree with Stephen, it's not going to happen this month, but I think we're headed that way.

Gardner: Stephen, any thoughts about it. With OSGi, of course, its heritage was in embedded. So, it's almost designed for this sort of a problem set?

O'Grady: I was about to say exactly the same thing. OSGi is eminently applicable, simply because it does offer you the componentization, to some degree, of the stack, as was just discussed. We've seen this before. Some of the mobile carriers have explored OSGi in varying degrees. We'll certainly see more of that.

The other Eclipse-related mobile story that's probably worth at least a mention is some of the Android work that's going on. There's a plug-in for Eclipse that will allow you to develop in Eclipse and toward the Android platform.

So, both on the server side with OSGi, as well as the tooling side, the client development side, with things like the Android SDK and some of the work that the folks at MyEclipse are doing, Eclipse will really have roles to play on both sides of that equation.

Gardner: Wayne, given that we've identified the mobile Web and its latest incarnations and innovations as an interesting way for the enterprise developers to move quickly to mobile, and the fact that they're getting the push for doing this from their own users, those mobile warriors, how do you get started?

If you're in this mode of training, experimenting, and getting up to speed, where do you even start on that process of going from traditional Web development to mobile Web development?

Parrott: I am going to go ahead and toot our own horn here, but at Genuitec, this is what we're specializing in. We provide a number of online resources and enterprise tools to help users target toward both their enterprise applications and also toward mobile. So, I would say, visit our site at

The other would be to educate yourself. As I mentioned earlier, there is just a wealth of resources on the Web. Genuitec will provide a book list

We've also learned how these approaches are going to make it easier for the enterprise to get these processes that they've of course invested many, many years and probably millions of dollars in, and bring them out to more users with more payback and return on that investment.

or a bunch of book lists that you can access, read up on, and kind of educate yourself, just to understand whether you really even want to get into this field or not.

Finally, one of the things that I am really proud of is that I believe what really gets you connected is seeing and believing. When I talk to some people, not everybody has access to a smartphone. They may have seen other people with them, but they don't necessarily understand or grok it. One thing that we provide is a very simple micro WebKit browser that you can install and it can run off your desktop. You can explore and experiment with the mobile Web in a way that gives you a first-hand type of experience.

Once you're beyond that, then you have additional roadmaps, depending on the type of complexity that you want to adopt and the type of applications you're going to build, and provide tooling and expertise around that.

Gardner: Okay, I'm afraid we're about out of time. We've been learning about how Web developers can better take their full PC browser applications out to a mobile tier, perhaps without losing the features. We're also looking at how those native capabilities on these handheld devices can be utilized as well, and bringing them together over time is something that I'm pretty excited about.

We've also learned how these approaches are going to make it easier for the enterprise to get these processes that they've of course invested many, many years and probably millions of dollars in, and bring them out to more users with more payback and return on that investment.

So join me in thanking our panel. We've been joined by Stephen O'Grady, founder and analyst at RedMonk. Thank you Stephen.

O'Grady: Thank you, Dana.

Gardner: We've also enjoyed the input from Wayne Parrott, vice president for product development at Genuitec. Thank you, Wayne.

Parrott: Thanks, everyone.

Gardner: And David Beers, senior wireless developer at MapQuest. Thank you, David.

Beers: Thanks all. I enjoyed it.

Gardner: I also want to thank the sponsor of this discussion, Genuitec, for underwriting its production. This is Dana Gardner, principal analyst at Interarbor Solutions. Thanks for listening, and come back next time.

Listen to the podcast. Download the podcast. Find it on iTunes/iPod and Learn more. Sponsor: Genuitec.

Transcript of a BriefingsDirect podcast on new technologies and approaches that leverage the mobile Web for designing Web applications for hand-held and other mobile devices. Copyright Interarbor Solutions, LLC, 2005-2000. All rights reserved.