Mobile app developers are finally getting organized. The announcement for the creation of the Application Developers Alliance came last week and with it high hopes for the collaborative advantages hoped to be gained in the future.
The Application Developers Alliance Mission
Led by Jon Potter, former executive director of the Digital Media Association, the ADA is set to begin promoting its mission at this week’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. That mission will consist primarily of acting as an advocate for the mobile app development industry in knowledge sharing, collaboration, and product testing, while providing support for its causes, including education, cloud hosting, and government lobbying.
The Application Developers Alliance Strategy
Potter described an aggressive strategy for putting the ADA on the map. He consistently underlines the need for better organization in the mobile app community, and promises that “We’re going to be at the meet-ups all around the country, we’re going to be at conferences, we’re going to be talking to folks, we’re going to be polling people,” et cetera. Potter also outlined four of the more important practical stepsthe organization will be taking in the short term:
- A collaboration network, via an online database
- Product-testing facilities offering access to multiple platforms and tools
- Discounted and free tutorials on trends and technologies, as well as structured training and certification programs
- Discounted hosting and cloud services via Rackspace
Cross-Platform Development Issues
Of course, this all sounds very promising, but perhaps the biggest hurdle in the ADA’s path will be its need to address the problem of cross-platform development. The major app stores operate as walled off gardens, making it difficult for a mobile app developer to produce an app on both, say, Google and iOS without almost having to start from scratch with the second app. Thus far, the strategy is to wait for an app to turn a profit on one platform before deciding whether it’s worth the investment to re-develop it elsewhere. This is not ideal. The industry isn’t exactly optimistic about the prospects of easier cross-platform portability, but considering how easy it is now to put Kindle books on an iPad, for example, we hope that it’s only a matter of time before the problem goes away.