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OpenPlug – Another Alcatel-Lucent Buy


Aclatel-Lucent is buying OpenPlug, which is a development suite that aims to make multi-platform development in the mobile space easier. You start out developing in the OpenPlug IDE, ELIPS Studio (“based on Adobe’s Flex Builder”), and then your application is code-gened, cross-compile, and all that to different platforms.

Addressing Mobile Platform Fragmentation

Here’s the quote I gave for the press release:

“While demand for mobile apps is peaking, so is the fragmentation of mobile development platforms and tools,” said Michael Cote, analyst for Redmonk. “This makes it very expensive to target all devices and can lead to putting all your eggs in one, often tightly controlled basket, like Apple’s, or doing a least-common denominator, mobile web app that can’t benefit from full native device access. A tool that can target all platforms is hugely needed in this space, and OpenPlug should work well with the total mobile app development portfolio Alcatel-Lucent is putting together.”

Alcatel-Lucent has been building up a suit of tools and services to help telcos enter the mobile app space, and this purchase is trying to make the actual development of those apps in the highly fragmented market easier. Us tech-fiends may obsess over the iPhone and (increasingly) Android, but globally there’s many platforms, esp. when you throw in the “dumb phones,” that is, regular cellphones and “feature phones.”

Even among Android, recent release like the Dell Streak with its older version of the mobile OS have shown that application writers need to target fragmentation within a platform. It’s like the days before “write once, run anywhere” of the Java and .Net hegemony…and the days after with the PHP, Rails, and web application framework explosion.

Rising Interest in Mobile

“Mobile” is just about the only thing developers talk with me about now-a-days. On the non-nerd side, businesses are starting to realize that just as the tooled up for web sites over the past 10 years, mobile is increasingly a place their customers expect to do business. So there’s anecdotal evidence of a huge surge in interest.

What’s interesting about Alcatel-Lucent getting into this business (along with others – Motorola recently bought mobile tool vendor 280 North, IBM is an interesting example, recently having show-cased their mobile portfolio) is that they’re a known, trusted vendor to telcos. Getting large companies, like carriers, to change the core business – selling apps instead of just voice and data – is a Herculean task, and it helps to be friendly with the change-agents.

(As a side note, since I’m at VMworld this week: you see a similar thing happening, but with much more hunger, with service providers and hosters. Many of them are realizing – as Rackspace did awhile ago – that they’d do well to change over to providing cloud computing, giving them something more than the “stupid computing” [to ape “stupid networks”] to sell at ever reducing prices.)


Disclosure: Alcatel-Lucent is a client, as are Dell and IBM.

Categories: Companies, Development Tools, Programming.

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