To structure the description of the current practices, we propose to examine the current mobile development platforms from the point of view of individual mobile application developers. We start by classifying the platforms in diﬀerent categories depending on the three main components depicted in. First, the developer uses development tools to build its mobile application. Second, the developer publishes its application on a portal, from which the consumer can download the application onto its mobile device. This model, adapted from , includes developers, the application portal, consumers, and all the processes related to the publishing and purchasing of a mobile application.
1- Development tools:-
Central to every development platform is its software development kit (SDK), which enables third party developers to deliver applications running on the platform. Such a kit can include among other things, libraries, debuggers, and handset emulators. Existing platforms have taken diﬀerent approaches when it comes to sharing their SDK with developers. Some have chosen to restrict access as much as possible, whereas others have chosen to disclose the entire source code of their SDK and OS. Using the terminology introduced by Raymond in , we call bazaar an open source platform, where any third party developer can access the entire platform with no, or little, restrictions and contribute to the construction of its structure. Conversely, we call cathedral a closed platform, where most of the code is hidden from developers and an all mighty architect plans every inch of the platform’s construction.
In order for applications to pass from developers to consumers, an application portal must be created. Mobile portals are considered to be an essential element in the mobile application distribution process since they play the role of intermediary between developers and consumers. Some scholars predicted that the number of portals would increase , whereas others predicted that the portal market would consolidate given time . In the current market, both phenomena are present. Some platforms use a centralized single point of sale strategy and others use a decentralized multiple points of sale strategy.
Decentralized portal. Nokia, Linux, Microsoft, and LiMo have a decentralized portal approach. Developers can freely upload their applications on any thirdparty portal, as there is no centralized policy. In this model, all portal providers can freely compete in order to gain customers and applications. The downside for the consumer is that the great variety of portals does not provide a comprehensive oversight of existing applications.
3- Platform integration:-
Some platforms focus on their core business, which is to provide an OS with programming support for developers, whereas others integrate the entire distribution process. Hereafter, we classify platforms according to their level of integration similarly to, but instead of taking into account the whole value chain, we focus on the distribution process, where we identiﬁed four diﬀerent types of integrations, namely full integration, portal integration as well as device integration and no integration.
Full integration. Platforms with a full integration have a strict control over every step of the distribution model from device manufacturing to application publishing, as depicted in Apple and Nokia exhibit such a strong integration. Apple produces the device on which its OS runs, namely its iPhone, and it owns the unique authorized portal for mobile applications, namely the AppStore. Furthermore, Apple also plays the role of content provider with the iTunes store available on the iPhone. Similarly, Nokia manufactures its phones and provides an application portal as well as other content via its OVI3 portal.
4- Towards portal centralization:
Prior to the introduction of Apple’s AppStore and more recently Google’s Android Market, platforms did not have a central portal. With the introduction of its AppStore, Apple has proven that a mobile application market should not be underestimated and can represent an important revenue stream. According to CEO Steve Jobs, the AppStore has generated a revenue of a million dollars a day in its ﬁrst month of existence.4 There are currently 15000 applications on the portal, which have been downloaded a total of 500 million times. Note that these ﬁgures grew by 50% in the last month.5 Following Apple’s lead, traditional platforms like Nokia, RIM and Microsoft seem to be moving in this direction. Nokia is pushing its OVI portal and RIM has developed its own Application Center. Microsoft is also planning to launch its own version of the AppStore called SkyMarket with the next version of Windows Mobile (WM7).