Feature Article

November 21, 2012

Has PhoneGap Peaked? And What Does that Say for App Stores?

Jeremy Allaire’s open letter to the industry launched a discussion about what the toolkits of the future look like.   He pointed out that we are benefiting from the Internet tech, but when it comes to mobile, we have religious wars. The biggest benefit the mobile phone has brought is better access to the Web. Therefore, the app store trying to differentiate itself from the Web has led to false thinking.  The answer has to be in taking advantage of Web development to deliver mobile solutons.

“Hybrid apps as a bi-partisan solution to the religious mobile platform wars are too important to our economy.  Every institution on the planet wants to invest in reaching users through apps on consumer devices, but we have a deep deep labor shortage because of these religious wars.”

In other words, focusing on making the Web work for mobile will be more productive than differentiating the Web on each phone.

In the open letter, Allaire calls out Adobe, Apple and Facebook for not doing enough to enable Web developers to support mobile development.

His vision is that Web developers should be able to produce good experiences on any device using hybrid development. What I would call frameworks, he calls toolkits, but the terms associated with the libraries are not as important. The point is that the focus should be on the mobile Web and not on device specific coding.

Brightcove’s solution to this is its hybrid platform, called “App Cloud,” which brings an open plug-in model with third party APIs connected to cloud services.

“Adding a pre-built plugin is as simple as copying a directory into their App Cloud project and including a JavaScript file. Brightcove’s cloud compilation service then automatically embeds the new functionality in the customer’s application and produces binaries ready for distribution through app stores. Developers will also be able to build custom native plugins of their own using the soon to be released App Cloud plugin development kit (PDK).”

To learn more about the Brightcove, we have invited Ashley Streb, VP of Brightcove to keynote at DevCon5 in San Francisco next week.

Much of what is said in the open letter points to the issues we face as the device changes.   The ubiquity of the Web cannot be replicated on a single device and the app store by its nature has to be further limiting. 

Much of the discussion at DevCon5 will take us beyond today’s market and to where/what we should be developing for the future.

If you can browse the Web and find your app that way, what are the control features needed to form an app store? At some point is an app store a limiting solution?

And if the Web can manage security correctly (another big topic at DevCon5) then certainly we should expect devices to allow distribution through the web.

I would love to hear your thoughts and to that point, please take a moment to take the survey below.

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Edited by Stefanie Mosca

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