Thursday, 18 June 2009

Windows Mobile, iPhone, Android, Palm - a look around

It is an interesing time of flux in the mobile software development market. The new version of iPhone OS released, a new version of Windows Mobile in the offing, Android phones have trickled onto the market and the Palm Pre arriving.

Intermorphic are in a pretty good position during this time of change.

The approach we've taken is to try and embrace all the key platforms - provided they support C++, Posix threads and STL. This lowest common denominator allows us develop complex software quite cost effectively. Of course, this required us to engineer our products from the beginnning to be able to reuse 95+% of our UI code, and 99+% of all other code, across all platforms we support; which is a challenge but one that was well worth the effort. That allows us to create standalone Mixtikl variants for Windows Mobile, iPhone, and Mac/Windows desktops. And even plug-in VSTi/AU variants for Mac/Win desktops!

This baseline requirement on C++ means that for now, Android and Palm webOS aren't viable target platforms for Mixtikl. The reason? Android only supports Java applications, and Palm Pre supports only JavaScript/CSS applications. However, the C++ approach does mean that a Symbian Series 60 variant of Mixtikl is possible in the future, if the Symbian SDKs ever become cost-effective to use (I remember various past problems when I last looked at Symbian, including their use of non-standard C++, no thread support, no support for STL...). The Antix platform also looks very promising, I hope it gets mass distribution so we can run on it!

It is interesting to consider how the Android and Palm platforms might succeed in terms of a 3rd party software market. From my perspective as a creator of applications for mobile, I can't see how it could be cost effective for me to invest several months (or years!) in creating a complex app for either Android or Palm, where I could spend just a little more time creating a complex app that would run on all of Windows Mobile, iPhone/iPod, Windows desktop, Mac desktop, and future platforms as yet unknown. The economies of scale seem pretty clear to me. :) I can see small games and utilities being created for the two platforms, but would be surprised to see large-scale commercial apps coming about for either of them.

Pete

2 comments:

Mobile said...

We are going to see even more high-end smartphones this year and next. In fact, the US smart-phone market grew by over 68% last year and it projected to be the single biggest consumer growth market in the near future. You are going to see a flood of new devices, technologies and gadgets. Let's see if the big mobile OS providers (e.g., windows mobile, android, apple) can keep up with the growing user request list of features.

Pete Cole said...

Thanks for the comment! I'll post a response in a separate post... Pete