Research2Guidance has a new free (registration required) excellent report on mobile cross platform development tools. They have evaluated 45 tools and surveyed over 1000 users’ opinions.
This time last year I was amazed how many exhibitors at Apps World (UK) were pushing (HTML-based) cross platform tools. It seems there are now too many and only 11 tools are known by more than 20% of the app community.
Surprisingly, less than 5% of all apps available in today’s apps stores are being developed with the help of cross platform tool. Research2Guidance say that a problem is that third party developers such as myself need to convince their customers that cross platform tools will be able to produce a competitive app. In my opinion it’s not just about the app being ‘competitive’ i.e. good enough. It’s also knowing the tool/company will be around say next year when the app needs updating. It’s knowing the tool will be updated to support new SDKs and UIs. It’s knowing that the tool will support a feature the client might ask for in the future but doesn’t see any need for now. It’s knowing the client can easily find other developers willing to work using the tool.
Most non-trivial cross platform tools also still need the developer to invest significant effort. That’s effort that might otherwise have been spent on keeping up with the newer ‘native’ libraries and tools. It’s a hard sell.
All this is indeed possible. If the tool can generate sufficient critical mass then developers become interested. However, once this happens there’s the risk the tool gets bought by a large company and dies. For example, this happened to me with AppForge in 2007.
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- Sybase Cross-Platform Mobile Runtime
- One Button Cross Platform Development Framework