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Dec 10, 2013 (3 years and 4 months ago)

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About Visi
onMobile

VisionMobile is a leading market analysis and strategy firm,
for all things connected. We offer competitive analysis,
market due diligence, industry maps, executive training and
strategy,
on topics ranging from the industry's hottest trends
to und
er
-
the
-
radar market sectors.

Our mantra: distilling
market noise into market sense.

VisionMobile Ltd.

90 Long Acre, Covent Garden,

London WC2E 9RZ

+44 845 003 8742

www.visionmobile.com/blog

Follow us: @visionmobile

About webinos

This research was suppor
ted

by webinos, an EU
-
funded
project un
der the EU FP7 ICT Programme (#257103).

W
ebinos is an EU
-
funded project aiming to deliver a
platform for web applications across mobile, PC, hom
e
media (TV) and in
-
car devices.VisionMobile is a member of
the webinos
consortium. More info at
www.webinos.org

License

Licensed under

Creative Commons
Attribution 3.0

license
.

Any reuse or remixing of the work should
be attributed to the
VisionMobile The
Clash of Ecosystems report.

Copyright © VisionMobile 2012


Disclaime
r

VisionMobile believes the statements contained in this
publication to b
e based upon information that we
consider
reliable, but we do not represent that it is accurate or
complete
,

and it should not be relied upon as such. Opinions
expressed are current o
pinions as of the date appearing on
this publication only
,

and the information, including the
opinions contained herein, are subject to change without
notice.

Use of this publication by any third party for whatever
purpose should not and does not absolve s
uch third party
from using due diligence in verifying the publication’s
contents. VisionMobile disclaims all implied warranties,
including, without limitation, warranties of merchantability
or fitness for a particular purpose. VisionMobile, its affiliates
and representatives shall have no liability for any direct,
incidental, special, or consequential damages or lost profits,
if any, suffered by any third party as a result of decisions
made, or not made, or actions taken, or not taken, based on
this publica
tion.

v.1.00

Chapters

1.
Why cross
-
platform

tools are here to disrupt the
status quo

2.
The landscape of 100+

cross
-
platform vendors and
their tools

3
.
Measuring the

developer experience and
perceptions of cross
-
platform tools

4.
In
-
depth profiles for

15 m
ajor tool vendors

5.
The outlook for cross
-
platform tools


Behind this report

Lead researcher: Seth Jones

Quantitative analysis: Christina Voskoglou

Market trends: Michael Vakulenko

Sales and sponsorships: Vanessa Measom

Editorial: Andreas Constantinou

Mar
keting & Proj. Management: Matos Kapetanakis


Also by VisionMobile

Mobile Industry Atlas | 5
th

Edition

The complete map of the mobile industry

landscape, mapping 1,700+ companies

across 90
+ market sectors.


Available in wallchart and
online version
.

ww
w.visionmobile.com/maps



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Key Messages


-

Cross
-
platform tools are addressing real challenges for developers
Cross
-
platform tools
(CPTs) allow developers to create applications for multiple platforms
-

usually mobile, but increasingly
tablets or TV screens
-

from almost the
same codebase or from within the same design tool. CPTs reduce
the cost of platform fragmentation and allow developers to target new platforms at a small incremental
cost. More importantly, cross
-
platform tools allow software companies targeting multiple p
latforms to
reuse developer skills, share
codebases, synchronise releases

and reduce support costs.

-

PhoneGap and Sencha lead developer mindshare
Our survey of over 2,400 developers revealed
that
PhoneGap and Sencha lead in terms of mindshare, as they are

currently used by 32% and 30% of
cross
-
platform developers, irrespective of their primary tools. Completing the top
-
5 ranking of our
Mindshare Index are Xamarin’s MonoTouch / Mono for Android, Appcelerator and Adobe (Flex). The
second half of the top
-
10 C
PTs in terms of current use are Unity, Corona, AppMobi, RunRev and MoSync.

-

PhoneGap, Mono and

Unity lead developer IntentShare
. Our survey indicates that PhoneGap
(23%), Xamarin Mono (22%) and Unity (22%) are the tools most developers plan to adopt, irr
espective of
their primary tool. This market is in constant flux, with developers experimenting and trying out new tools


for example PhoneGap is a stepping stone to cross
-
platform development as it leads Mindshare,
IntentShare, but also comes third in th
e tools being abandoned. The most widely used CPT accounts for
just half of the Mindshare seen in the iOS and Android platforms in our Developer Economics 2011 report.

-

Cross
-
platform tools flatten the playing field
Just as the Apple/Google duopoly began

to look
impenetrable in 2011, a major disruption is flattening the playing field for competitors like Microsoft's
WP7, RIM’s BlackBerry OS and Samsung's Bada: cross
-
platform tools are letting developers target
multiple platforms with low incremental costs

and high levels of code reuse.

-

Cross
-
platform tools challenge the Apple/Google duopoly
2012 marks an inflexion point in the
war of mobile ecosystems where the network effects built by Apple and Google are being challenged by an
unsuspected new entrant.

Cross
-
platform tools (CPTs) make it easier for example for an iPhone developer
to reach Android and Windows Phone 7 users. CPTs dilute network effects by allowing other ecosystems to
compete not just in terms of the number of apps listed, but also the ava
ilability of top apps, the time
-
to
-
market (an app rarely appears at the same time across all platform app stores) and the overall app quality.

-

Democratisation of development

The dozens of CPTs available cater to every developer segment,
from creative de
signers to C++ gurus t
o hobbyist website enthusiasts
to Fortune
-
500 CIOs. Cross
-
platform
tools reduce barriers to entry and democratise app development, by allowing developers from any language
(HTML, Java, C++), any background (hobbyist, pros, agencies, c
orporates) and any skill level (visual
designer to
hard
-
core

developer) to build mobile apps. The result could be termed a “democratisation” of
software development (in the words of Unity’s Dan Adams), in that mobile platforms may be opened up to
all types

of developers.

-

Past the early
-
adopter chasm
We have identified over 100 cross
-
platform developer tools, in a
market that’s booming with new players in 2011. Cross
-
platform tools have passed the “early adopter”
phase, and are now moving into mainstream.

For example vendor Sencha counts 1.6 million SDK
downloads, Corona apps have reportedly been downloaded 35 million times in 2011, Unity reports
200,000 developers active each month, while Appcelerator boasts 35,000 apps published using the tool
and deploy
ed on 40 million devices.

-

Mergers, financings and the survival of the strongest

Since 2011
,

cross
-
platform tool vendors
have raised major VC funding, have been acquired, or achieved major releases. In the CPT space we have
tracked 10 acquisitions, and ov
er US$ 200 million in funding rounds. This is a market that takes cash to
survive: CPT vendors are subsidizing their entry to market with free products, based on ample VC funding.
For example OpenPlug ceased operations as it failed to find a monetisation m
odel, with its key challenge
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being the conversion of freemium users into paying customers for its support and professional services.
CPT vendors without a compelling free product will be washed out by the competition.

-

Abundant developer vola
til
ity
The cr
oss
-
platform tools market is in a state of abundant developer
volatility. Our survey revealed that developers are hoping on and off across different tools. There are clear
market winners or losers and experimentation is the only means of tool selection. Th
is is a market where
there is little developer loyalty, and perceptions are still being formed. This is a great time for well
-
funded
vendors to establish a beachhead of developer marketing and inch themselves apart in terms of mindshare.

-

Cross
-
platform t
ools are taking HTML further than browsers can

The purpose of HTML5 has
been to extend the capabilities of web apps (those developed using HTML and JavaScript) to more closely
match the capabilities of native apps. Despite performance disadvantages and fra
gmentation across
different browser versions, HTML5 has emerged as the most widely supported authoring technology for
cross
-
platform apps. Cross
-
platform tools are taking HTML further than web browsers can, by allowing
web developers to create native smart
phone apps. In other words,

CPTs are taking HTML5 much further
by unifying the authoring side
-

rather than the runtime side
-

of the app across platforms.

-

Cross
-
platform tools have triggered an influx of web developers to mobile
CPTs are paving
the way f
or HTML5 to become not a platform, but the mainstream development technology for
smartphone apps. Cross
-
platform tools are already triggering an influx of web developers; We found that
60% of CPT users, irrespective of their primary tool, have more than fi
ve years experience in web
development. Indeed, cross
-
platform tools have triggered an influx of web developers into mobile.

-

Cross
-
platform tools will complement, not compete with native development

Android and
Windows Phone have been constantly evolvin
g, adding hundreds of new APIs from each major version to
the next. Due to the rapid advancement of platforms, tools vendors will always be one or two steps behind
in terms of features and access to the complete set of device capabilities. Developers that
create demanding
applications like 3D games or apps requiring intense user interaction, exceptionally deep user experience,
or apps relying on specific features not available on all platforms will need to be developed using the native
SDK. Cross
-
platform t
ools will therefore be complementary to native SDKs.

-

Hybrid apps combine the best of both worlds
The perennial question for many developers is
whether to use a web
-
browser approach to deploying mobile apps, or whether to create native applications.
Web a
pps provide a large addressable market, at the cost of web
-
only distribution and a comparatively
shallow experience. Native apps allow for much deeper device integration and experiences, but at the cost
of a platform
-
specific addressable market.

Hybrid app
s


like those created with PhoneGap


can combine
the best of both worlds. Hybrid apps can use web languages, can be distribute
d through an app stores and
can

provide deeper experiences than web
-
only apps.

-

Access to additional platforms is main adopti
on driver
The most important CPT selection
criterion for developers is the breadth of platforms that the tool supports, cited by nearly 60% of
respondents. The ability to tap into existing developer skills is the second most important reason for tool
selec
tion.

-

Monetisation is least important criterion
What’s notable is that monetisation opportunities are the
least important selection criterion. It is therefore evident that developers consider CPTs as a technical
means to cross
-
platform portability, and
not as a way to profit.

-

Performance and platform latency are key challenges
The biggest barrier to mass adoption of
cross
-
platform tools is feature parity with the native platforms. In his open letter to Adobe, Jobs criticised
cross
-
platform tools for l
ack of performance and sluggishness in adopting the latest platform features.
Indeed, the same issues were cited by developers in our survey as some of the most important reasons for
dropping a tool. Performance was the top reason for dropped a tool, cited

by 29% of respondents. More
importantly, the perception that “cross
-
platform tools are always a step behind native” was selected as a
top
-
2 rea
s
on for not using CPTs in the first place.

-

Developer maturity
With such a broad variety of cross
-
platform too
ls, we would expect developers to
use them at varying stages of their application projects. Yet, the overriding use case
-

75% of respondents
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irrespective of primary tool
-

was using CPTs from start to finish, to fully develop an app for multiple
platforms

As such we see a high level of practicality and commercial acumen in the use of cross
-
platform
tools; developers are now using CPTs at the very beginning of the app lifecycle
-

to create cross
-
platform
apps from scratch or to prototype
-

and not to retrof
it an app onto a new platform.

-

Cross platform tools will become “business as usual”

As the platform landscape remains
fragmented for the foreseeable future, cross
-
platform tools will become “business as usual” The future of
mobile development is multi
-
p
latform


fewer and fewer developers will be able to afford to be confined to
a single platform with the limited user reach and monetisation opportunities that implies. The adoption of
cross
-
platform tools is driven by the ability to reach masses of users,

which is the primary consideration for
most developer segments. Cross
-
platform tools are indeed the only cost
-
effective vehicle for these
developers to reach a wide mass of users, and we expect CPT usage to become commonplace a result.

-

Changing points o
f CPT competition
At the onset of 2012, CPT developer selection criteria are
heavily skewed towards the breadth of platforms supported by each tool. This picture will change
considerably as cross
-
platform tools vendors advance their products to cover all t
he major mobile
platforms. We expect that by mid
-
2013, the platforms covered by a CPT will move from a point of
differentiation to a point of parity. In that timeframe, we expect the points of competition to move to later
stages of the app lifecycle, with
vendors offering component marketplaces, end
-
to
-
end workflow tools,
device adaptation tools, app publishing services and post
-
download services.

-

Cross
-
platform tools expand to new verticals
In the sea of 100+ cross
-
platform tools, vendors are
beginning t
o differentiate by targeting three distinct developer segments: those working on games,
enterprise or media apps. Developers in these three segments face distinctly different
challenges,
work in
distinctly different environments and as such need very diffe
rent CPT solutions. As tool vendors try to
survive in the “red ocean” of dozens of cross
-
platform tools, we expect CPTs

to

emerge for the financial
sector, media publishers and the healthcare/medical sector.

-

Multi
-
screen is the next frontier for cross
-
pl
atform tools

The battle of the software ecosystems is
raging across ma
ny screens
-

mobile, tablet, PC

and soon smart TV devices
-

and multi
-
screen will be the
next frontier for cross
-
platform tools. Already in our survey, 27% of respondents noted t
hat the
y also target
Windows PC

and 24% target Mac desktops with their main cross
-
platform tool. However, the complexities
of cross
-
platform development in a multi
-
screen environment are growing exponentially and beyond the
simple sharing of the code between mult
iple platforms. Different screen types have different interaction
models, input methods, scre
en sizes, go
-
to
-
market channels and

pricing models, while developers working
on different screens have use varying tool
-
chains, development cycles and collaboratio
n processes. With
the proliferation of users who own more than one connect screen, the next frontier for cross
-
platform tools
will be multi
-
screen.



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About The Cross
-
Platform Tools Report


Welcome to the inaugural Cross
-
Platform Tools Report for 2012. Thi
s is the seminal report on the
landscape of 100+ cross
-
platform developer tools with an analysis of key vendors and the metrics of
developer experience. Cross
-
Platform Tools 2012 is the first major report that analyses the complex cross
-
platform tools land
scape, presents the key tools vendors and maps out the trends in
what is
one of the
hottest markets in mobile.

The term “cross
-
platform tools” describes developer tools that allow applications to be created and
distributed to multiple platforms while reduc
ing the incremental cost per platform and maximising the
code reuse. Cross
-
platform tools can address platforms across mobile (e.g. Apple’s iOS, Google’s Android,
Microsoft Windows Phone 7), tablets, desktop (Microsoft Windows, Apple OSX, Linux) and gaming

consoles (
PlayStation
, Nintendo, Xbox).

Cross
-
platform tools


is a broad l
andscape
that spans from
JavaScript

frameworks to source code translators. The tools cater to a broad range of developer audiences,
from newbie developers to seasoned C++ gurus.

Th
is report presents developer perceptions about a wide range of key issues, from incentives and
deterrents to cross
-
platform tool use to the most
-
wanted
tool

features. Our research profiles 15 well
-
known
cross
-
platform vendors and tools with regard to their

technology, positioning and market traction. Our
Cross
-
Platform Tools report also investigates the top tools being used, identifying which tools are being
adopted and which are being dropped by developers.

This research is based on an online developer sur
vey, as well as in
-
depth interviews with developers and
tool vendors. There were more than 2,400 participants in the online survey, from 91 countries across the
globe, spanning from the major US and European regions to Malawi, Uzbekistan and Jamaica. There

were
also 15 interviews carried out with major tool vendors, as well as developers.

This report is split in
to

five chapters
-

an discussion of why cross
-
platform tools have come about, a review
of the cross
-
platform tools landscape, an analysis of the dev
eloper experience and perceptions, a detailed
review

of cross platform tool vendors

and an analysis of market trends.

Hope you enjoy reading this report as much as we enjoyed writing it!



The VisionMobile team

-

Andreas, Matos,
Christina,
Michael, Seth, V
anessa

www
.
visionmobile
.
com

|
twitte
r:
@VisionMobile


Thank you!

We would like to thank our sponsors, who helped us bring this project to life and supported us throughout
its course.

We would like to particularly thank Marmalade, RunRev LiveCode, Verizon Developer Community,
Xamarin, AT&T,
Appcelerator, Intel, MoSync, Orange Partner and WIP.

We would also like to thank Paulius Uza, CEO of development house InRuntime and Henry Kingman for
their contribution.

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Research Methodology

The Cross
-
Platform Developer Tools 2012 project is based

on a large
-
scale online developer survey and 15
vendor interviews. The survey was carried out for five weeks between November and December 2011.

The survey gathered completed responses from a total of 2,406 participants across an impressive 91
countries.

Respondents had primarily technical roles, with 75% identifying as software, mobile or web
developers. Only small constituencies identified as managers, IT staff or designers. Mobile developers were
mostly new to mobile, with 66% having up to two years of

experience. In contrast, web developers were
very experienced (53% having more than seven years experience) while software developers were seasoned
pros (74% having more than seven years of experience). Cross
-
platform tools are indeed enabling major
new s
egments of seasoned software and web developers to come to mobile.

Similarly to previous Developer Economics reports, Europe and North America each accounted for about
40% of respondents, while Asia accounted for another 12%.


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The market of cross
-
platfor
m tools is booming in 2012. We identified over 100 vendors selling tools that
range from JavaScript frameworks and app factories to runtimes. For our survey, which seeks to quantify
developer mindshare, experience and expectations, we selected 20 tools: Ad
obe (Flex), Appcelerator
(Titanium), AppMobi, Bedrock (Metismo), Ansca (Corona), DragonRad, Kony, Marmalade, MoSync,
Netbiscuits, Alcatel Lucent (OpenPlug), PhoneGap, RhoMobile, RunRev (
LiveCode
), Sencha Touch /
jQTouch, Strobe/Sproutcore, Unity, Unreal, W
orklight and Xamarin (MonoTouch/Droid). We were also
able to extract insights for Qt, which formed part of the “other” tool category for over 50 respondents.

The previous graph shows the distribution of 2,406 respondents by primary cross
-
platform tool.
Par
ticipation rates were skewed by promotional campaigns some survey sponsors ran to encourage survey
participation. We removed the bias effects of these campaigns by normalising all graphs against the top
-
10
primary cross
-
platform tools or other survey param
eters with over 50 unique responses.

To arrive at our tool MindShare, IntentShare and abandonment rankings, we asked developers to indicate,
for each one of twenty listed tools, which ones they had used but dropped, which they continue to use, and
which th
ey plan to adopt in the future. The resulting 1,713 responses were then cross
-
tabulated for the top
-
10 major tools. These cross
-
tabs enabled us to normalize usage, intent and abandonment more or less
independently from the respondent sample size and the pr
imary tool used by respondents.

Note that

while the report was sponsored by many industry players, none of the sponsors had editorial
influence or control over the report.



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The cross
-
platform Gold Rush

2012 marks an inflexion point in mobile platforms.

Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android platform have been
propelled to previously unimaginable heights, amassing over 540,000 and 350,000 listed applications,
respectively, from hundreds of thousands of developers, as of the end of 2011. Thanks to so
-
called net
work
effects, Apple and Google have built huge barriers to entry for competitors like Microsoft, who having
spent over US$1 billion in marketing, still lag a few laps behind.

However, just as the Apple/Google duopoly began to look impenetrable, a major di
sruption is flattening
the playing field for competitors like Microsoft's WP7 and Samsung's Bada: cross
-
platform tools are letting
developers target multiple platforms with low incremental costs and high le
vels of code reuse
.

Simply put, cross
-
platform dev
eloper tools (CPTs) allow developers to create applications for multiple
platforms from almost the same codebase or from within the same design tool.

The impact of CPTs is twofold; they can reduce entry barriers to mobile development and, if successful,
re
duce exit barriers (‘lock
-
in’) that users face when migrating to a new platform.

Democratisation of development

First, cross
-
platform tools allow developers to reach platforms they
otherwise could not. CPTs lower entry barriers, for example allowing web d
evelopers to create native
smartphone apps using only HTML and JavaScript. They can provide easy
-
to
-
use languages and
development tools, and facilitate modular development and software component reuse. Some tools also
allow developers to use the same codeb
ase to target multiple screens


and not just different mobile
phones, but also tablets, games consoles, desktops and TVs. The result could be termed a
“democratisation” of software development (in the words of Unity’s Dan Adams), in that platforms may be
opened up to all types of developers.

Reducing developer lock
-
in

The second impact of cross
-
platform tools is strategic. CPTs reduce
platform exit barriers, i.e., “developer lock
-
in.” For example, they make it easier for a developer to code for
Android an
d Windows Phone 7 at the same time as iPhone. App ecosystems compete in four arenas: the
number of apps listed, availability of top apps, time
-
to
-
market (an app rarely appears at the same time
across all platform app stores) and overall app quality. In the
ory, cross
-
platform tools make it far easier for
platforms with weaker network effects (e.g., Bada) to compete, by allowing developers to code for Bada
essentially at the same time as they code for Android. In other words, cross
-
platform tools can help sma
ller
platforms to compete not just in number of applications, but also app availability, time
-
to
-
market and
quality.

Apple famously tried to increase developer lock
-
in to Apple’s XCode tools and iOS APIs by banning
Adobe’s Flash runtime from iDevices


and

very successfully so. But, cross
-
platform tools make it easier to
circumvent Apple’s pre
-
load and app store restrictions, by packaging the runtime with the app or by
translating a platform
-
neutral codebase into native code at build time.

As we shall see,
2012 marks a year of technological maturity for cross
-
platform tools
. The older
approach of using a “lowest common denominator” like Flash or Java has lost favour to newer approaches
based on thin
runtimes
, cross
-
compilers, and hybrid web apps.
Tools

once
criticised for teething problems
have in 2011 raised major VC funding, been acquired, or achieved major releases. For example, MoSync 2.7
enabled web coding and, along with Marmalade, added real native UI elements. Meanwhile, Sencha is
readying Touch versi
on 2.0, featuring its own web wrapper solution and a streamlined build process.
Others, such as the LiveCode Android deployment pack and Mono for Android, were only officially
released to market in 2011.

In parallel, the HTML5 umbrella of technologies is i
nching past the peak of inflated expectations and
towards the trough of disillusionment (in Gartner’s Hype Cycle terms). HTML5 has yet to really become a
platform; it lacks essentials like implementation consistency, mainstream distribution channels (a.k.a
. app
stores), and any means of micro
-
monetisation other than mobile ads. Yet, thanks to cross
-
platform tools
,
HTML5 (including JavaScript)
is making mobile app inroads. There are tens of tools aimed at helping web
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developers use existing skills to build
‘native’ or ‘hybrid’ smartphone apps. Those discussed in this report
include Appcelerator, PhoneGap, Rhodes, Sencha 2.0 and Worklight. Meanwhile, mobile frameworks are
arriving that aim to help web apps offer a “near native” user experience. These include
jQuery Mobile,
Sencha, iUI, and


for gaming


Impact.js.
CPTs are paving the way for HTML5 to become not a
platform, but the mainstream development technology for smartphone apps.

Ups and downs in the cross
-
platform space

This report is written at a time
of great flux for cross
-
platform development. Acquisitions, divestments and
funding rounds are taking place all over the radar. Adobe’s Flash, the venerable cross
-
platform solution,
faces retirement, with Adobe announcing in November, 2011, that it will ce
ase development of the Flash
plugin for mobile browsers. In parallel it is planning to retire the Flex SDK in favour of ActionScript
-
only
development. Cross
-
platform tools vendors acquired since mid
-
2011 include RhoMobile, Metismo, Aptana,
ParticleCode, Ni
tobi, Strobe and Worklight. Open
-
Plug, acquired by Alcatel Lucent in 2010, had to
discontinue its product due to lack of revenues (see the case study later in this chapter). Meanwhile
Sencha, a high
-
profile JavaScript framework for creating native, touchsc
reen UIs, closed two VC funding
rounds in 2010 and 2011, to the tune of US$29 million.

The next three tables list the main acquisitions, exits and VC financings, respectively, in the cross
-
platform
tools space.

MERGERS AND ACQUISITIONS IN THE CROSS
-
PLATFO
RM TOOLS SPACE


Company

Product & type

Acquirer

Date

Aptana

Development environment

Appcelerator

Jan
-
11

Metismo

Bedrock Java
-
to
-
native source code translator

Software AG

May
-
11

TapJS

Game hosting platform and API

AppMobi

Jun
-
11

TapLynx

App factory

Pus
h IO

Jun
-
11

RhoMobile

Rhodes enterprise apps framework

Motorola Solutions

Jul
-
11

Particle Code

Source code translator

Appcelerator

Oct
-
11

Nitobi

PhoneGap tool for creating web hybrid apps

Adobe

Oct
-
11

Strobe

Web app framework and app management
platfor
m

Facebook

Nov
-
11

Cocoafish

Post
-
download app services

Appcelerator

Feb
-
12

Worklight

Enterprise app platform

IBM

Feb
-
12

Source: VisionMobile research


Investment floods in
As financiers scout for the next hockey
-
stick curve, cross
-
platform tools have
po
pped up in their radar, raising over US$200 million. Backed by significant venture capital funding,
Appcelerator is playing the role of consolidator, acquiring Particlecode, Aptana and Cocoafish as it moves
to provide a more end
-
to
-
end solution across the
app lifecycle. Worklight gained a major US$21 million
boost before being sold to IBM, while Pyxis raised US$17 million and was renamed to Verivo.

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VC FINANCINGS IN THE CROSS PLATFORM TOOLS SPACE


Company

Major Investors

Investment rounds

Date

Ansca Mobil
e

Merus Capital

Undisclosed

Undisclosed

Appcelerator

Storm Ventures, Larry Augustin,
Sierra Ventures, eBay, Mayfield
Fund

Translink Capital

Red Hat

US$4.1 million

US$2.1 million

US$9 million

US$1 million

US$15 million

December 2008

June 2010

October 2
010

January 2011

November 2011

Apperian

Common Angels, North Bridge
Venture Partner, Bessemer
Venture Partners

US$ 1 million

US$ 0.5 million

US$ 9.5 million

July 2009

December 2010

March 2011

AppMobi

Undisclosed

US$2.1 million

US$6 million

July 2009

Ja
nuary 2011

GameSalad Inc.

Steamboat Ventures

Greycroft Partners

DFJ Mercury

DFJ frontier

FF Venture Capital

US$1 million

US$6.1 million

July 2010

March 2011

Get It Mobile

Javelin Venture Partners

US$1.1 million

February 2011

Kony Solutions

Insight Ven
ture Partners

US$19.1 million

January 2011

Papaya Mobile

Doll Capital Managment

Keytone Ventures

US$4 million

US$18 million

January 2010

April 2011

Pyxis (now Verivo)

Egan Managed Capital

Ascent Venture Partners

Commonwealth Capital

US$5.2 million

US$1
.95 million

US$17 mi
llion

September 2005

December 2007

January 2012

Sencha

Led by Sequioa Capital and
Radar Ventures

Led by Jafco Ventures

US$14 million

US$15 million

June 2010

October 2011

Service2media

Prime Ventures

Newion Investments

US$10 million

J
une 2011

StackMob

Trinity Ventures

Harrison Metal Capital

Baseline Ventures

US$7.5 million

May 2011

Unity
Technologies

Led by Sequoia Capital

Led by WestSummit Capital &
iGlobe Partners

US$5.5 million

US$12 million

October 2009

July 2011

Unwired Na
tion

DFJ Mercury

US$6.5 million

US$7.5 million

January 2006

January 2012

Worklight (now
IBM)

Index Ventures, Genesis
Partners, Shlomo Kramer

Pitango Venture Capital


US$5.1 million

US$12 million


September 2006

April 2008

source: VisionMobile research
, Crunchbase

2



1
14

Divestments in the CPT landscape: the case of OpenPlug

Alongside the rosy investments and buyouts, there have been a few grey fatalities in the cross
-
platform tool
speed race. In September, 2010, Alcatel
-
Lucent acquired OpenPlug. The telco inf
rastructure vendor hoped
to build a strategic platform between telcos and developers. A little over a year later, in December 2012,
OpenPlug announced it was discontinuing operations, having failed to attract enough developers.

The company had originally a
n embedded software background, and had built an operating system for
feature phones called ELIPS Suite
,

which started shipping in significant volumes in 2008, notably with
Sony

Ericsson. By

that time, handset OEMs were however shifting their focus away fr
om feature phones
and racing to adopt Android in their smartphone range to counterbalance the increasing competition
posed by Apple's iPhone.

As a result, OpenPlug pivoted to a cross
-
platform runtime and toolset, released in beta at the Adobe MAX
2009 conf
erence under the ELIPS Studio name. It was targeting Adobe developers seeking to extend their
reach beyond deskto
ps to smartphones. That was mis
timed, with the product being announced on the very
same day as Adobe¹s Flash packager for iPhone and AIR for Mo
bile. ELIPS Studio was using Adobe's rich
internet application framework (Flex and MXML) which was then starting to be challenged by HTML5,
and is now being phased out by Adobe. OpenPlug was also criticised for failing to respond to numerous
developer requ
ests to make their toolset more compatible with Adobe's MXML and AIR APIs.

Ultimately OpenPlug failed to find a monetisation model
, with its key challenge being the
conversion

of freemium users into paying customers for its support and professional service
s. The
challenges were exacerbated by competitors like Appcelerator who


thanks to ample VC funding


gave
the product away for free. Unlike others, OpenPlug also lacked any cloud services offering, which could
have provided a complementary up
-
selling opp
ortunity.

Being part of Alcatel
-
Lucent, an operator
-
focused vendor, certainly did not help OpenPlug to recruit
developers. Inste
ad, the company found that
developers did not consider operators to be an important part
of the mobile app ecosystem. Before dis
continuing operations, OpenPlug did amass 22,000 registered
developers; however, only a minority were active users who went beyond just creating a “hello world”
application.

Past the early adopter stage

Cross
-
platform tools have passed the “early adopter”
phase, and are now moving into
mainstream
. One tool vendor


Sencha


claims a developer base of 1.6 million, along with 300,000
registered community members. Games development platform Unreal has seen 1 million unique installs of
its SDK, it says. Unity h
as seen major growth in 2011 as well, and is now claiming 800,000 registered
developers, including 200,000 active every month. Appcelerator spiked its user base from 250,000 by
another 1.6 million by acquiring Aptana, and integrating its “Titanium” technol
ogy with the popular
Aptana IDE. PhoneGap has been downloaded 600,000 times, and integrated with dozens of mobile
application platforms and App builders. Cross
-
platform tools are making a consumer impact, too. Corona
claims its tool has been used to create

6,000 apps
, which have been

collectively downloaded 35 million
times in 2011. A
ppcelerator claims 35,000 apps

and 40 million device deployments.

CROSS
-
PLATFORM TOOL
S TRACTION


Tool

Market Traction

Reference Applications

Adobe (Flash,
AIR, Flex)

3,000,00
0 estimated developers

Machinarium (iOS), eBay, BBC iPlayer

Adobe claim 9/10 of the most popular
Facebook games use Flash

Ansca Mobile
100,000 downloads

Th
e Secret of Grisly Manor, Bubbleball
2



1
15

(Corona)

10,000 developers (estimated)
incl.

873
studios
.
Apps downloaded 35 million
times in 2011

and Unicorn Studio.

Appcelerator

250,000 through Titanium (pre Aptana)

1,600,000 through Aptana IDE

35,000 apps published and deployed on
40 million devices

NBC iPad App, LEGOLAND, Zipcar, and
PwC’s MyTravel app.

M
armalade

50,000 developers installed base
including EA an
d

PopCap

Plants
vs.
Zombies, Call of Duty: Black
Ops: Zombies, Need for Speed Shift, Cut
The Rope, Lara Croft Guardian of Light
and Sim City Deluxe

MoSync

180,000 downloads

20,000 registered users

E
nterprise apps, e.g., Gemalto, Intel,
Navtech

RhoMobile
(now Motorola)

100,000 downloads

SuperTrainerHQ, Pilsner Urquell
Navigator, IPv6 World congress, Touristik
Mainz

PhoneGap

600,000 SDK downloads

Netflix, LinkedIn and Ars Technica Reader
for iPad

S
encha

1,600,000 downloads

300,000 registered community members

Direct.TV app
, Tours in Malta
, Bugs in the
Garden and Just One More by Ribbit

Unity
Technologies
(Unity)

800,000 registered developers 200,000
active each month
. More than
87 million
to
tal in
stalls of the web player.
1,500
Unity based games in the iPhone App
store

iShadowgun, Battleheart, Gears, Samurai
II and Snuggle Truck

source: VisionMobile research

Behind the emergence of cross
-
platform tools

Cross
-
platform tools have emerged to address
three major market gaps that exist today in mobile apps
development: dealing with platform fragmentation, accessing new platforms, and managing developer
resources.

Dealing with platform fragmentation

Cross
-
platform tools have emerged as a solution to the
problem of device and platform fragmentation. Java
ME was supposed to address the tens of proprietary operating systems powering phones in the 2000s


but developers wound up having to support over 200 device variants (SKUs), just to reach 80% of the
insta
lled device base in any one country. Mobile web sites were another “lowest common denominator”
approach hampered by poor browser conformance to web standards; even today, Internet Explorer on
Windows Phone supports only half of the HTML5 features supported

by Apple’s Safari on iDevices. In
addition, HTML5 is still a long way from delivering app
-
like experiences, and requires expensive tweaking.
Assanka, which made the popular Financial Times HTML5 app for iPad and Android tablets, said it took
24 man months

(an estimated. US$400,000 cost) to create the iPad version of its HTML5 app, and
another 12 man months to port the same app to Android.

Besides fragmentation across devices, platform fragmentation is very pronounced. Android is notorious for
its runtime f
ragmentation; in February, 2012, there were three different versions of the Android platform
(API levels 7,8 and 10) in the installed base with a share of more than 2%. All three versions in the installed
2



1
16

base are

behind the latest release version at API l
evel 15, with
the interim API levels (11
-
14) targeted at tablets
(Gingerbread release).

To combat fragmentation, cross
-
platform tools vendors have
offered device optimisation and web re
-
rendering solutions
in the cloud. Databases of device specifications

and
capabilities can be used to optimise image sizes, re
-
configure
layouts and user interfaces, and implement workarounds or graceful functional degradation rather than
forcing developers into a lowest common denominator approach. Traditionally, device ca
pability databases
were provided by pure
-
play vendors such as Wurlf, DotMobi and DetectRight. Increasingly, device
databases are available from telco infrastructure players (e.g., WDS, Ericsson, mFormation, Ascom), telcos
themselves (e.g., AT&T device capa
bilities API) as well as existing cross
-
platform tools (e.g.,
Netbiscuits
,
Mobile Distillery, Sevenval). BKRender, another cross
-
platform solution, provides a database of 6,000
devices and an HTTP reverse proxy to optimise mobile websites.

A number of CPTs

grew from the need to solve fragmentation issues for internal consulting
projects
. One such case is Enough Software, a provider of optimisation tools for Java ME apps. Enough
Software exemplify what is a fairly typical path in the cross
-
platform tool spac
e


starting with solving
fragmentation issues they experience in their own projects before productising that know
-
how into a
commercial tool. This was the evolution path followed by Pyxis (Verivo),
Netbiscuits
, Marmalade and
DragonRad, among others.

And

while CPTs are beginning to solve platform fragmentation issues, new dimensions of fragmentation
are emerg
ing.

“Fragmentation is now a 4D matrix”
according to Christopher Kassulke, CEO of
Handy Games who notes that developers now have to deal with fragmen
tation across software platforms,
billing platforms (and pricing

models), advertising platforms

and social platforms
.

Access to new platforms and screens

For the nearly 2,500 developers that participated in our online survey, we found that the most importa
nt
factor in selecting a cross
-
platform tool is that it supports a broad range of platforms. Apart from the
dominant iOS and Android platforms, many platforms are vying for runner
-
up positions


including
Windows Phone 7, Bada, and BlackBerry, not to menti
on additional “screens”, i.e., desktop, gaming and
set
-
top box platforms. We found that developers are using iOS or Android as the launchpad from which to
then expand to new platforms; users of the popular Appcelerator and Marmalade tools res
ponded that ov
er
90% target iOS

and over 80% target Android. Over 70% of CPT users target iOS, while over 60% target
Android.

In the VisionMobile Developer Economics 2011 report, we found that developers target an average of 3.2
platforms concurrently. Almost a year on,

in the survey conducted as part of the cross
-
platforms report, we
found that respondents are targeting an average of 3.8 platforms


a figure that increases to 4.5 platforms
for those developers actively using cross
-
platform tools.
In other words, cross
-
p
latform tools are
proven to increase the number of platforms simultaneously catered to by developers.

The increase in multi
-
platform “tenancy” is important from a cost perspective. For a developer, rewriting
an application to target a new platform costs ti
me and money. Often, targeting a new platform means
adding more than 50% to the original development costs. Plus, with platform development locked to
different app stores, app submission and marketing costs also increase.

We also found that CPTs are being
used to address new screens,
i.e., new form factors and
connected devices, desktops, set
-
top boxes and gaming consoles. In our survey, 27% of respondents noted
t
hat they also target Windows PC

and 24% target Mac desktops with their main cross
-
platform tool
. With
Eric Schmidt predicting that more than half of T
Vs

in North America in mid
-
2012 will be powered by
Android, the ability to reach new screens is going to be a major driver for the growth of cross
-
platform
tools.

“Fragmentation is now a
4D matrix”

Christopher Kassulke

CEO of Handy Games

2



1
17

While our survey was conducted slight
ly before their
sudden surge in hype, the smart T
Vs

that emerged at the
end of 2011

did not show much momentum. Only a
single respondent requested support for smart TVs,
while a few more mentioned SmartTV platforms like
Google
TV and LG TV. There were als
o
several
mentions from developers supporting the Playstation3
and Vita, Xbox, and the MS Surface Table. Linux proved
to be the most popular alternative platform that we had
not identified, with 76 respondents noting that they
targeted the platform in embe
dded, server or desktop
form.

Managing development resources

A third very important reason behind the emergence of cross
-
platform tools is the challenges in managing
developer resources. Developing for mobile presents multiple operational issues for softwa
re houses,
regardless of whether they are a one
-
man garage operation or a top
-
five multinational game software
vendor.

Each major smartphone, PC or games platform has its own authoring language, its own set of APIs, its own
development environment and its

own app store. The next table shows how much the major smartphone
platforms differ.

LANGUAGES & ENVIRONMENTS


Platform

Authoring language

Dev

Environment

App store

Android

Dalvik

C and C++ (NDK)

WebViews

Android Development Tool
Plugin for Eclipse

Ot
her IDEs, e.g., IntelliJ,
Netbeans. Visual Studio

Android Market



Bada

C++ (proprietary
extension)

HTML, CSS, JS

Bada IDE based on Eclipse
CDT and JSDT (JavaScript
Development Tools)

Samsung Apps

Blackberry
Tablet OS

C/C++

Java

Android Player

HTML5, CSS
,
JavaScript

QNX Momentics IDE

Eclipse plug
-
ins

Standard IDE & Webworks
tools


Blackberry App World

Blackberry
OS

J2ME MIDP 2.0

HTML WebWorks SDK

Eclipse plug
-
in

Blackberry App World


iOS

Objective C

WebViews

Mac with Xcode

App Store

Symbian

C++

Qt

Car
bide C++ IDE

Ovi Store

Windows
Phone

C#, VB.NET

Silverlight framework

XNA framework

Visual Studio and Microsoft
tools such as Expression
Blend

Windows Phone Marketplace

source: VisionMobile research

“We have found that by using
cross
-
platform tools our time
to market is reduced by 70%
on average. We choose cross
-
platform tools even if we need
to buil
d a single application for
a single platform”

Paulius Uza

CEO of InRuntime

2



1
18

Take for example a small apps company developing for
iOS, Android and Windows Phone 7. They would
have to employ three teams of developers, as often, skillsets don’t mix. They would have to maintain three
different codebases, and synchronize feature additions and bug fixes across the three. This is a dauntin
g
challenge, and one reason why many apps are launched across stores with months of delay. Furthermore,
quality and design consistency will vary when multiple developer teams are involved, and especially when
the development for a new platform is outsource
d to a third party. Support costs are also difficult to
contain when developing for multiple platforms, as developer documentation needs to be built for three
platforms, as does the internal customer support documentation.

Cross
-
platform tools therefore ca
n provide major time
-
to
-
market advantages and cost savings to a software
house.

“We have found that by using cross
-
platform tools our time to market is reduced by 70% on
average,” remarks Paulius Uza, CEO of development house InRuntime. He continues, “We
choose cross
-
platform tools even if we need to build a single application for a single platform”.



2



1
19



2



1
20

Mapping the Cross
-
platform Tools Space

The market of cross
-
platform developer tools has exploded in 2011. What used to be a niche market of few
big play
ers in 2005 (Adobe Flash Lite and Sun Java ME) has in 2012 mushroomed into a diverse market of
over 100 smaller players.

In this report, we’ve attempted to create order out of chaos and introduce a mapping of cross
-
platform
developer tools (CPTs). We’ll e
xamine the key components of a CPT, the five different technology
approaches, the three forms of app deployment (native
vs.
web
vs.
hybrid) and the use cases. We’ll
conclude with a full list of cross
-
platform tools.

Anatomy of a cross
-
platform tool

A cross
-
platform tool can have five components, which correspond to the five stages in the app lifecycle:
develop, int
egrate, publish, deploy and manage.

2



1
21

1.
Develop
. Cross
-
platform tools offer a plethora of authoring languages, from entry
-
level, simplified
langu
ages like LiveCode or Lua (e.g., Corona, DragonRad, Moai and Unity), to web languages HTML, CSS
and JavaScript (e.g., Appcelerator, Application Craft, Kony, Spot Specific) to mid level languages like Java
and C# /.NET (e.g., Xamarin MonoTouch) to more low
level languages such as C++ (e.g., Qt, MoSync,
Marmalade, Aqua Platform).

Many tools offer a visual drag
-
and drop environment (e.g., Ga
mes Salad, Yo Yo Games Maker, Li
veCode,
Appcelerator, Spot Specific). Others have only a restrictive template
-
based app

development process (e.g.,
iBuild App, Wix Mobile). Other tools target developers in specific segments; for example, Impact JS and
Lime JS JavaScript frameworks target games developers, while RhoMobile and Worklight target enterprise
developers.
This gamu
t of CPT authoring languages caters to the entire spectrum of app
developers, from scripters to seasoned web developers, and from creative designers to
hard
-
core software developers.


The IDE (integrated development environment), emulator and debugger are
core parts of the Develop
stage. The open source IDE Eclipse is most often used as a basis, as the development environment is cross
-
platform itself across PC, Mac and Linux. On top of Eclipse, vendors provide additional plugins and
emulators. Some vendors
offer an install
-
free, web
-
based development environment specially designed for
enterprise developers or designers working for a brand.

The Develop stage can also involve source control, collaboration and workflow tools. RhoMobile’s RhoHub
uses Git reposi
tories to manage source con
trol and collaboration. Unity,
Appcelerator and RunRev provide
marketplaces where designers and developers can sell components and assets with the aim of helping
others to speed up their development cycle with off
-
the
-
shelf compo
nents. Sencha soft
-
launched a similar
component marketplace in November 2011, while Corona and Marmalade host a template repository and
code community, respectively.

2.
Integrate
. This stage is about integrating with native d
evice capabilities, cloud APIs

and enterprise
databases.

To integrate with native device capabilities
, a popular approach is to use JavaScript alongside the
PhoneGap APIs and library, all of which are bundled together in a hybrid
-
native application. Worklight,
AppMobi,

Feedhenry and BK
render include PhoneGap functionality within their tools. MoSync and Qt use
a similar approach of wrapping native APIs with an abstracted set of platform
-
independent APIs that the
developer can call irrespective of the end platform being targeted.

To integ
rate with native device capabilities, developers use the set of APIs defined by the tool in the tool’s
coding language


for example JavaScript, Lua, LiveCode or C++. Similar functions on each target
platform usually share the same tool
-
level API, allowing

for a high level of code re
-
use for the business
logic, but less so for the UI or hardware
-
specific features. For example, Mono Touch and Mono for Android
do not share common UI APIs, nor do all device feature APIs map cleanly from one device to another.

Apps can call the device functionality at runtime, with the call either translated at compilation, or passed
through the bridge that the runtime provides to the underlying platform.

Connecting to
cloud APIs

is another major part of the integration proce
ss. Cloud APIs are turning into
a
market segment of their own. Social gaming networks have become increasingly important to mobile
developers, and this is not just Facebook or LinkedIn. The Apple Game Center, OpenFeint, Scoreloop,
Skiller, Papaya Mobile an
d Swarm provide cloud
-
based APIs for social gaming.

Social APIs are only a small part of the picture. There are over 14 vendors providing
in
-
app billing and
virtual goods platforms,

including Bango, Social Gold and Paythru; more
t
han

27 selling sales
anal
ytics tools
such as App Annie, Distimo and Flurry; more than
eight offering app diagnostics
tools such as Bugsense and Testflight. A full list of vendors is available through VisionMobile’s Atlas
service. There are, of course, signs of consolidation. Appce
lerator in particular has its own anal
ytics and
monetization platform

and acquired Cocoafish to integrate social sharing and push messaging features.


2



1
22

Application platforms targeting enterprise (B2B) developers often provide services for

managing
database
connectivity
. RhoMobile offer the RhoConnect mobile app integration server, which provides
data synchronisation by pushing out updates to the device as they happen on the backend. CPT offered by
Antenna, Feedhenry, and Worklight provide similar integration

middleware. Other notable cross
-
platform
tools dedicated to enterprise development are Stackmob, Oracle (ADF), Aperra a
nd Sybase (Unwired
Platform).

3.
Build
. The build stage is where the cross
-
platform “magic” occurs. There are a number of different
appr
oaches for building the application. The two most popular are: compiling the code and UI templates
directly to native platform binaries; or, packaging code in a native shell and interpreting through a
runtime, which could be a ‘naked browser’ packaged with

the code, or even the device’s own browser

rendering engine. A number of
different technology approaches for building cross
-
platform apps are
discussed in the next section.

4.
Publish
. Publishing an app involves submitting it to the native app store (e.g.
, Apple App Store or
Android Market) or publishing internally with the option of hosting on a private enterprise app store (e.g.,
with Feedhenry, Antenna, RhoMobile or Worklight). Many CPT products help to manage the App store
publishing process to some de
gr
ee; these include Sencha 2.0,
AppMobi’s PhoneGap XDK, and RhoMobile’s
RhoHub. Some vendors such as Appcelerator LiveCode and Corona will showcase apps on their websites,
while Unity (with ‘Union’) also provide support for publishing to additional platfor
ms.

5.
Manage
. “App management” functionality is typically offered by enterprise
-
targeted CPTs (e.g.,
Worklight,
RhoMobile
, Antenna, Feedhenry). It may include push messaging and data flow management,
along with remote (un)installation, policy management,
and inventory management. Management of
commercial apps adds performance tracking (i.e., analytics tools) that may be provided by vendor partners.
For example, Appcelerator deeply integrates its own analytics into Titaniu
m, while Ansca Mobile integrate
s
Fl
urry’s analytics APIs into its own Corona SDK.

Technology approaches in cross
-
platform tools

In our analysis of cross
-
platform tools, we have identified five distinct technology approaches being used:
JavaScript frameworks, app factories, web
-
to
-
native wr
appers, runtimes and source code translators. Each
technology targets a slightly different developer audience
-

from non
-
developers to seasoned programmers
-

and address different application use cases. These technology approaches are not mutually exclusiv
e;
many tools use a combination of technologies. For example some runtime
-
based CPT solutions are adding
a webview
component, which

enable
s

them to create hybrid web app wrappers.

JavaScript frameworks
are code libraries designed to speed up complex web de
velopment tasks like
managing touch
-
screen interactions, building cross
-
browser user interfaces, or managing games sprites.
Example vendors are jQuery Mobile, Sencha Touch, Cocos2D, DHTMLX Touch, Zepto JS, Impact.js, iUI
and Wink. JavaScript frameworks tar
get web developers looking to create touch UIs, achieve cross
-
platform browser compatibility, deliver native look and feel, or deliver complex game functionality.

App factories

are code
-
free, visual design tools for quickly building simple mobile applicati
ons. They
consist of a development environment (installable or cloud
-
based) that uses template
-
based, drag and drop
or wizard
-
based capabilities to generate the app code. At their simplest, app factories can be used to create
RSS
-
based news readers or no
-
f
rills branded apps. At the next level up they provide a basic drag and drop
designer. At their most advanced they provide a code
-
free, component
-
based design approach that
includes device and cloud integration.

App factories allow non
-
developers to “creat
e their own app”. Some app factories allow developers to view
and tweak the code generated by the tool. Others include a range of post
-
download services including
analytics, push notifications and ad management. Examples include AppMkr, AppsGeyser, Wix Mob
ile,
Tiggr, Mobile Nation HQ, Mobjectify, Red Foundry and Spot Specific.


2



1
23

TECHNOLOGY APPROACHES IN CROSS PLATFORM TOOLS


Type

Description

Examples

Target
audience

Authoring
language

Use cases

JavaScript
frameworks

JavaScript code
modules delivering
time
-
saving user
interface or other
components

jQuery Mobile,
Sencha Touch,
Cocos2D, DHTMLX
Touch, Zepto JS,
ImpactJS, LimeJS,
iUI, Wink

Web

developers

JavaScript

Create touch UIs,
achieve cross
-
platform browser
compatibility,
deliver native look
and feel, or d
eliver
complex game
functionality.

App factories

Code
-
free, visual
design tools for
easily building
mobile applications.

AppMkr, Wix
Mobile, Tiggzi,
Mobile Nation HQ,
Mobjectify, Spot
Specific, Red
Foundry, Games
Salad

Non
-
developers

Visual
,
code
-
free
to
ols

“Create your own
app”

Web
-
to
-
native
wrappers

Solutions to deliver
native apps using
HTML and
JavaScript. The web
code is packaged
with a library that
bridges web code to
native functionality
-

all inside a native
app shell.

Adobe (PhoneGap
Build),Uxeb
u
(Aparrat.io) Sencha
(Touch v2)

MoSync
(Wormhole)

Web

developers

HTML,
JavaScript,
CSS

To convert web
apps to native for
app store
distribution, or to
access native device
functionality and
optimisations.

Runtimes

A runtime execution
environment
abstract
ing the app
from the underlying
platform.

J2ME, Ado
be Air,
Ansca Mobile
(Corona),
AppMobi,
Antix, Unity,
Appcelerator,
Xamarin

Software

developers

Any
supported
language

Apps targeting a
wide reach across
platforms or across
screens

Source code
translato
rs

Takes platform
-
independent source
code and converts it
to the source code of
the native
platform(s), or the
source code is
compiled directly
into a binary.

MoSync, Eqela,
Marmalade,
Bedrock, XMLVM

Software

developers

Any
supported
language

Applications
with
complex logic and
high performance
or optimisation
requirements

source: VisionMobile research


Web
-
to
-
native wrappers

are solutions to deliver native apps using web HTML5, CSS and JavaScript.
The web code is packaged with libraries that bridge web co
de to native functionality


all inside a native
app shell. Apps are written in web languages, and access a webView (a “chromeless” browser component)
already on the device, plus JavaScript API extensions that let the app use platform capabilities beyond
t
hose normally exposed by th
e browser: notifications, accel
erometer, compass, connectivity, geolocation,
and the filesystem.

The prime example of web
-
to
-
native wrappers is
PhoneGap
, as well as Uxebu’s Apparat.io and Sencha v2,
which adds this wrapper funct
ionality to the JavaScript framework. Another example is MoSync
Wormhole, which delivers a greater set of API functionality than PhoneGap. Web
-
to
-
native wrappers
target web developers who need to convert web apps to native for distribution through an app s
tore, or
access native device functionality and optimisations.

2



1
24


Runtimes
. A runtime is an execution environment and cross
-
platform compatibility layer that sits atop
the native operating system. A runtime essentially shields the app from differences betwee
n underlying
platforms. Runtimes vary in size and complexity, and execute code on the device using several different
methods


virtualization, interpretation, just
-
in
-
time compilation or ahead
-
of
-
time compilation.

Java ME, BREW, Flash Lite and Openwave MI
DAS were early runtime pioneers. These heavyweight
execution environments seemed half way between a browser and a full operating system. They lost
popularity in the late 2000s due to their poor developer story (platform fragmentation and no direct route
to

market), poor handset OEM proposition (integration complexity), and competition with Android, iOS
and HTML5 browsers.

Today’s cross
-
platform runtimes offload complexity from the device software layer to the design
-
time
development tool. Often, part of the

cross
-
platform translation happens at design
-
time (through
translation into bytecode) and part at run
-
time (by executing that bytecode). Examples of runtimes are
Appcelerator, Adobe Flex (and AIR), Corona, AppMobi, Antix and Unity. Runtimes target softwar
e
developers looking for broad reach across native platforms or across screens (mobile, PCs, games, TVs).

Source code translators
These solutions translate (cross
-
compile) the source code into an intermediary
bytecode, native language (e.g., C++, Objective
-
C, JavaScript) or directly to lower level machine code
(assembly language). Source code translators are often used in combination with a runtime element.

For example, Metismo (now Software AG) converts J2ME applications to C++, ActionScript and
JavaScript
, and compi
les for ARM, MIPS, PowerPC
and x86 devices. Similarly, Eqela takes an app written
in a C
-
like language and translates the source code to match the target platform: JavaScript for web
browsers, Java, C or assembly.

Haxe/NME converts the ActionSc
ript
-
like “Haxe” source language


which features an API similar to Flash


to either Shockwave or C++ source code with native standard libraries. XMLVM uses Java, .NET or Ruby
code compiled to byte code level which is then cro
ss compiled to Javascript, C+
+
or Objective C. Other
examples of tools with an element of source code translation are MoSync, Marmalade and Xamarin’s
Mono. They target advanced software developers who need to create cross
-
platform apps with complex
logic and high performance or optim
isation requirements.

Cross
-
platform tools g
oing vertical

In addition to the above five technology approaches, cross
-
platform tools vendors have already began
differentiating by verticals, targeting their solutions towards enterprise, game or media app dev
elopers and
their particular needs.

Enterprise Application Platforms
are cross
-
platform tools that support the full application lifecycle
(develop
-
>integrate
-
>publish
-
>manage) with database connectors, middleware, and cloud services such as
app hosting, po
licy
management

and push messaging. Many of these target enterprise
,

rather than
consumer applications. Notable mobile application platforms include Worklight, Kony, Antenna Mobility
Platform, Application Craft, RhoMobile and Verivo.

Games tools

are comple
te development environments specifically targeted at games developers. The
games engine is a more heavyweight runtime component; the app typically consists of low level code (e.g.,
C++) plus a scripting language (e.g., Lua) for coding the game logic. Unrea
l and Unity are the outright
market leaders for advanced 3D games. They offer a host of integrated tools and workflow plus
collaboration management. Moai, SiO2, Antix and Shiva3D are also operating in similar game tools
markets. Marmalade and Corona have
developed from a games engine legacy, though have extended
support for broader use cases with features such as native UI elements. There are also lighter
-
weight
games tools like GameSalad, which is positioned as a ‘games builder’ combining the no code app
roach of
2



1
25

an app factory with the tools of a games engine. Lightweight JavaScript libraries like Impact JS and Lime
JS are positioned as HTML5 game frameworks.

The next table lists over 50 cross
-
platform tools by technology approach, authoring language and

deployment format (web
vs.
native).

MAJOR
CROSS
-
PLATFORM TOOLS &
APPROACHES


Vendor (Tool)

Technology approach

Authoring language

Deploym.

format

Adobe (AIR)

Runtime

Actionscript

Native, Hybrid

Adobe (Flex)

SDK addition to AIR

MXML

Native, Hybrid

Ans
ca Mobile
(Corona)

Runtime

Lua

Native

Antenna Software
(Mobility Studio)

Runtime

HTML5, CSS and
JavaScript

Hybrid web apps

Antix Labs (Antix
Games)

Runtime

C/C++

Native

Appcelerator
(Titanium)

Runtime

HTML5, CSS and
JavaScript

Native apps

Applicati
on Craft

Web
-
to
-
native wrapper
(PhoneGap)

WYSIWYG, HTML,
Javascript, CSS, jQuery

Web app
s
, Hybrid

AppMobi

Runtime (Mobius) Web
-
to
-
native app wrapper
(PhoneGap)

HTML5, CSS and
JavaScript

Web apps, H
ybrid

Backelite (BKrender)

Web
-
to
-
native app wrapper
(P
honeGap)

HTML5, CSS and
JavaScript

Web apps, H
ybrid

DHTMLX Touch

JavaScript framework

HTML5, CSS, JavaScript

Web app
s

Didmo (Magmito)

App Factory

WYSIWYG

Web app
s
, Hybrid

Elements Interactive
Mobile (EDGELIB)

Runtime

C++

Native

Enough Software
(J2ME P
olish)

Source code translator,
Runtime

Java

Native

Exadel

(Tiggzi)

Web
-
to
-
native app wrapper
(PhoneGap)

WYSIWYG, JavaScript

Web a
pps, Hybrid

FeedHenry

Web
-
to
-
native app wrapper
(PhoneGap)

HTML5, CSS, JavaScript

Web app
s
, Hybrid

IBM (Worklight)

Runtime
, Web
-
to
-
native app
wrapper (PhoneGap)

HTML5, CSS, Javascript

Web apps, Hybrid,
N
ative

iBuildapp

App Factory

WYSIWYG (templates)

Web apps, Hybrid

Ideaworks3D
(Marmalade)

Source code translator

C++

Native

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1
26

iFactr / iFactr
Monocross

Source code translato
r,
Runtime

C# .NET

Native

impact.js

JavaScript framework

HTML5, CSS, JavaScript

Web app, Hybrid,
N
ative

iUI

Framework

HTML5, CSS, JavaScript

Web app

Jo App

JavaScript framework

HTML5, CSS, JavaScript

Web

apps, hybrid

JQuery Mobile

Framework

HTML5, CSS
, JavaScript

Web apps

Kony

Web
-
to
-
native app wrapper

WYSIWYG, HTML5, CSS,
Javascript

Hybrid, Native

Mobile Nation
(MobileNationHQ)

App Factory

WYSIWYG

Web app, Hybrid

Mobjectify

App Factory

WYSIWYG, HTML,
JavaScript, CSS

Web app

MoSync

Source code tr
anslator,
runtimes

C++, HTML5, CSS,
JavaScript

Native

Netbiscuits

Framework / App factory

WYSIWYG, HTML5, CSS,
Javascript, BiscuitML

Web app,
Hybrid

Nokia (Qt)

Runtime

C++ QML (Qt Meta
Language)

Native

PhoneGap (Nitobi
-
Adobe)

Web
-
to
-
native app wrappe
r

HTML5, CSS, JavaScript

Hybrid

Pyxis (now Verivo)

App factory

WYSIWYG

Native

Radical Breeze
(Illuminations
Software Creator)

Source code translator

WYSIWYG

Native

Red Foundry

App builder

WYSIWYG

Native

RhoMobile
(Rhoelements)

Runtime

HTML, JavaScrip
t, Ruby

Native

RunRev (
LiveCode
)

Runtime

WYSIWYG, LiveCode
(natural
-
like

language)

Native

Sencha (Touch,
jQtouch)

JavaScript Framework, Web
-
to
-
native app wrapper (2.0)

HTML5. CSS, JavaScript

Web apps, Hybrid

Seregon Solutions
(DragonRad)

App Factory

WY
SIWYG, Lua

Native

SIO2 Interactive

Runtime

C/C++, Lua

Native

Smartface

Runtime

WYSIWYG

Native

Software AG
(Bedrock)

Source code Translator

Java

Native C++,
ActionScript and
JavaScript

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1
27

Spot Specific

Runtime or Web
-
to
-
native
app wrapper

WYSIWYG, HTML5
, CSS,
Javascript

Web app, H
ybrid

Strobe / Sproutcore
(acq. by Facebook)

Framework

HTML5, CSS, JavaScript

Web apps

SuperWaba
(TotalCross)

Runtime

Java

Native

The M Project

JavaScript framework, Web
-
to
-
native app wrapper

HTML5, CSS, JavaScript

Web apps,

Hybrid

Unity Technologies
(Unity)

Runtime

C# .NET, Lua

Native

Unreal (Unreal
Engine)

Runtime

UnrealScript

Native

Uxebu

(Aparrat.io,
Storage.js )

Frameworks, Web
-
to
-
native
app wrapper

HTML5, CSS, JavaScript

Hybrid

UXplus (Aqua
Platform)

Runtime

WYSIW
YG, JavaScript,
C++

Native

Wink

JavaScript Framework, Web
-
to
-
native wrapper
(PhoneGap)

HTML5, CSS, JavaScript

Web app

Wix Mobile

App factory

WYSIWYG

Web app

Xamarin (Mono
Touch, Mono for
Android)

Source code translator,
Runtime

C# .NET

Native

XMLVM

So
urce code translator

.Net, Java or Ruby
Bytecode

Java Bytecode, .NET
CIL, JavaScript,
Python, Obj. C C++

Zipline Games
(Moai)

App factory, Runtime (for
Lua script)

Lua

Native

source: VisionMobile research

The full list of 100 cross
-
platform tools that w
e have tracked as part of our research appears below.

FULL LIST OF CROSS
-
PLATFORM

TOOLS


Adobe (AIR)

The Dojo Foundation
(dojo toolkit)

The jQuery Project (jQuery
Mobile)

RunRev (Livecode)

Adobe (Flex)

Seregon (DragonRad)

Kony (KonyOne Platform)

Sencha

(Touch,
jQtouch)

Innaworks
(Alchemo)

Elements Interactive
Mobile (EDGELIB)

Vexed Digital (Kirin, NB FOSS
project)

Stonetrip (ShiVa3D)

Antenna Software
(Mobility Studio)

Emo
-
Framework.com

Kyros (Velocity)

SIO2 Interactive
(SiO2 Engine)

Antix Labs (Game
s
Development Kit)

Enough Software
(J2ME Polish)

Digital Fruit (Lime JS)

Mobinex Inc
(Smartface Platform)

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28

The Game Creators
Ltd (App Game Kit)

Job and Esther
Technologies Ltd
(Eqela)

Service2Media (App Lifecycle
Platform)

Spot Specific

Appcelerator
(Tita
nium)

Expanz (Expanz
Platform)

Didmo (Magmito)

StackMob

Geniem (Appever)

FeedHenry

Ideaworks3D Ltd (Marmalade)

Facebook (Strobe,
Sproutcore)

Application Craft

SevenVal, YOC Group
(Fitml.com)

Zipline Games (Moai)

Sybase (UnWired
Platform)

AppMobi

Lifecy
cle Mobile
(Fivespark)

Mobile Nation
(MobileNationHQ)

Pancoda (The M
Project)

Apps
-
Builder

Gamebuilder Inc.
(Gamebuilder Studio)

Xamarin (MonoTouch, Mono
for Android)

Deutsche Telekom
(The Unify Project)

UX Plus Inc. (Aqua
Platform)

GameSalad Inc
(GameSa
lad)

MoSync

Exadel (Tiggr, now
Tiggzi)

Battery Powered
Games
(BatteryTech)

Artech (GeneXus)

NeoMades (NeoMAD)

SuperWaba
(TotalCross)

Software AG
(Bedrock)

Gideros Mobile

Netbiscuits

Unity Technologies
(Unity)

Backelite
(BKrender)

SpringSource, VMWare
(G
rails, SpringMVC)

Octomobi

Unreal (Unreal
Engine)

Qualcomm (BREW)

HaxeNME

OpenText (Mobile Wave
Platform)

Uxebu (Bikeshed)

Brightcove (App
Cloud)

iBuildapp Inc (iBuild
App)

Oracle (ADF)

Uxebu (Aparrat.io)

Department of
Behaviour and
Logic (Cabana)

ITR
Mobility (iFactr)

Papaya Mobile

(Social Game Engine)

Vaadin

Canappi

Edhouse (IPFaces)

Adobe (PhoneGap Build)

Trigger Corp
(Trigger.io)

Cellsdk.com

Radical Breeze
(Illuminations)

Sideshow NetQuest (Proto.io)

IBM (Worklight)

Cocos2D

PhobosLab (impact.js
)

Verivo Software (ex Pyxis)

wxWidgets

Conduit Ltd
(Conduit Mobile)

FlexyCore (In
-
the
-
box)

Nokia (Qt)

XMLVM

Ansca Mobile
(Corona)

iUI

Quickconnect Family

XUI.js

CoStore
(Pixelspark)

JMango

Red Foundry

++ Technologies
(XPower++)

DHTMLX (Touch)

Jo App

M
otorola, Solutions
(RhoMobile)

YoYo Games (YoYo
Games Maker

source
: VisionMobile research

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1
29

Deployment formats: web or native?

The perennial question for many developers is whether to use a web
-
browser approach to
deploying mobile apps, or whether to create

native applications
. Web apps provide a large
addressable market, at the cost of web
-
only distribution and a comparatively shallow experience. Native
apps allow for much deeper device integration and experiences, but at the cost of a platform
-
specific
add
ressable market.

Cross
-
platform tools have blurred this distinction, with tools (notably Appcelerator) allowing web
developers to create native applications. Web
-
to
-
native wrappers such as PhoneGap allow web developers
to access native device functionality

while still running within a browser.

But the native
vs.
web question still applies in the case of deployment formats. Whether the final app is
web code or a native application has many ramifications in terms of the distribution channel (website
vs.
app s
tore) and depth of experience (shallow
vs.
engaging).


HTML5 does advance the capabilities of web browsers, for example allowing precise visual layout (Canvas
element) and inherent support for video, persistent storage, geolocati
on, access to contacts, se
nsors

and
SQL database access. At the same time, web developers have to deal with the immense level of variance
with how differently web browsers implement the HTML specifications. Across all mobile phone browsers,
Firefox Mobile 10 scores highest in term
s of HTML5 compliance, closely followed by Apple’s iOS5
platform. At the opposite end is the Windows Phone 7.5 browser, which is roughly half as compliant as
Apple. Desktop browser and TV browser compliance to the HTML5 standard is equally diverse and
pola
rised. A list of HTML5 browser compliance scores for mobile platforms is shown on the
previous

chart.

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1
30

The result of this “compliance fragmentation” is that web app developers have to spend copious time and
resources in cross
-
optimising their web apps for
the major smartphone platforms. Perhaps most notable is
the case of Assanka, makers of the Financial Times popular HTML5 app, who took 24 man months to
create the news reader HTML5 application for the iPad, and another 12 man months to port that same
appli
cation to Android.

Web Hybrid apps to the rescue

So should developers choose web or native? The hybrid app approach tries to combine the best of both
worlds. A number of cross
-
platform tools already produce hybrid apps: PhoneGap, BKRender and Sencha
v2, a
s well as Worklight and Appcelerator.

From the user’s point of view, hybrid apps are just like native apps: they are discovered and downloaded
using native platform app stores, and installed on the device using the familiar process. After installation,
hyb
rid apps can be launched from the home screen (iOS) or app drawer (Android), and can often work
without the need for data connectivity.



From the developer’s point of view, the workflow for making hybrid apps resembles that for making native
apps, with o
ne exception: developers can use HTML, CSS and Javascript to write most of some parts of the
apps. Since the hybrid app development model is supported by all major mobile platforms, this allows
reusing the HTML, CSS and JavaScript code between versions of
the app that target different platforms.

Hybrid apps consist of a native code shell (or wrapper) containing HTML, CSS and JavaScript. When a
hybrid app runs on the device, the wrapper starts an instance of the web browser (WebView) and loads the
HTML, CS
S and Javascript. The WebView instance is usually “chromeless”, i.e., it does not have web
browser controls, therefore allowing the hybrid app to look just like a native app.

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31

The next table compares native, hybrid and web app approaches across key technica
l and commercial
aspects. As shown in the table, hybrid apps combine some of the characteristics of native apps with those
of pure web apps.


Easy of discovery and reach.

Hybrid apps are discovered by users in the same way as native apps.
Separate versio
ns of the app need to be maintained to reach users of multiple mobile platforms.

Depth of experience.
Hybrid apps offer an important trade