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Taking the Enterprise Mobile: Developer Roundtable : Page 4

Though it is certainly exciting and fast moving technology, mobility has still managed to schlep sloppily into the enterprise. It's here, arguably, but its transformative powers are elusive. Find out what four developers say about the recent past and the immediate potential for a truly mobilized enterprise in this fast-paced roundtable discussion with DevX editors.


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More Devices = More Innovation
DevX: It seems that device proliferation—the number of devices and the continuing innovation that's going on in hardware and form factors—makes it really challenging for the enterprise to even think about doing the kinds of things that you guys are doing on their own. Is the ability to create an application and distribute a version of it for all kinds of devices where you add value?

BACHMANN: From our perspective it is a bit of a challenge. Now we have three major platforms for our software where we need to maintain a good level of functionality and quality and do all the business stuff. But the diversity of handhelds and types and form factors, I think that's a good thing. It reflects the handheld manufacturers' desire to create devices that are uniquely attuned to specific types of customers. Some are much more entertainment oriented, some are much more business enterprise oriented, and everything in between. They come in all sizes and shapes.

You could say that's confusing, but if you look at it from the other end of the telescope, you could say that it's an attempt to put products that make sense to much more specific customers rather than a one size fits all. But I think it creates opportunity rather than a challenge from our perspective. It is a little bit of effort to stay on top of all of them, but I think it encourages you to make use of the devices' specificity. A PC is a PC. Handhelds are much more specific to what you want to use them for, whether it is for communications or entertainment or calendaring or what have you.



DevX: So the platforms and the screen sizes are not a huge hindrance to you.

BACHMANN: I put it in the category of an annoyance rather than a real hindrance.

JOKINEN: For us also the variety of different terminals is more an opportunity than a challenge because we can select the best terminal for a specific job. So if there's a group of professionals performing a certain procedure and they need a certain type of support, then we can select the terminal that would best suit their need.

And anyway the prices—the terminal prices when we are talking about vertical solutions—are so low compared to what a customer's terminal used to cost.

SENICK: I think the healthy competition between the OSs and the ability to innovate only aids what we're trying to accomplish from a software development perspective. It just creates more and more awareness of what is out in the market.

DevX: So the annoyance is more than offset by the fact that we're still in the evolution stage. It's still creating excitement. It's still creating new opportunities. It's still creating new markets. It's still creating customer excitement.

So the Series 60 UI standardization that Nokia's promoting to its partners to try to standardize some of the aspects of the UI, that's not the enormous advantage that I would have thought? It's just a convenience?

SENICK: It helps, and it's convenient. It reduces our costs in developing, but it's not going to really make or break our business decisions regarding the platform. It's nice to see them do it.

Choosing a Platform Proves Tricky
DevX: Speaking of platforms, do you guys have preferences as to developing directly to Symbian, C ++, Java, or Microsoft's platform tools?

GUR: The usability is critical. On normal devices, if the application is not highly usable—unless somebody forces you to use it, which can only happen in a corporate setting—you simply will not use it. Therefore we need to utilize the device's capability as best as we can, and that's why we go for Symbian at this state.

We do believe that in the next phase, all mobile devices are going to become more powerful, more integrated with the devices, and more flexible. There's a very good chance that three or four years from now Java becomes the one platform we develop on.

DevX: So once they resolve the problem of giving Java access to more capabilities of the device?

GUR: It's mostly that, yes.

JOKINEN: We chose Java because it's easier to support many different phone models using Java. Also in the easy way of handling installations and updates to a large number of client terminals, Java is a plus. I think now the situation is getting quite good. MIDP 1.0 was very limited. There were many things you were not able to do with Java. But with version 2 I think we have much of what we need.

SENICK: We develop our applications in C + + and directly work with the Symbian OS. Java in its current format, MIDP 1.0, doesn't allow us to do what we need from a functionality perspective. Now, MIDP 2.0 will get us there, but we will probably continue to develop applications in C + +.

BACHMANN: Our printing application is arguably an operating system-level capability. It really belongs at that level, and it's designed and programmed for high performance, accessing all the communications capabilities. We really had no choice: We needed to write right to the OS. That said, for other applications I think the option of Java is a tremendous plus. It's not a very good fit for where we are.



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