Wireless Data Shot: Developer Commitment and Platform Choices

Wireless Data Shot: Developer Commitment and Platform Choices

he Evans Wireless Development Survey is a detailed report of extensive, in-depth interviews with almost 500 developers active in wireless application or infrastructure development. It was conducted in the Spring of 2004.

Percent of Time Dedicated to Wireless Development in the Past Year
Out of all of the trials a developer faces, one of the most common is the amount of time dedicated to a specific task or technology. While developers may want to spend all their available time programming wireless solutions, this is rarely possible. This question identifies how much time respondents actually spend dedicated to wireless design and development.

Figure 1. Total Time Spent: This graph shows the percentage of time those developers surveyed spent on wireless development in the past year.

As in previous surveys, the largest segment of respondents falls into the 25 percent bracket. These are standard results for any programmer, in any industry. These results have been constant over the last several surveys. When combined with “Company Size” demographic details, four out of ten developers work for medium or larger companies; team-oriented environments.

Complex applications are built by teams which have inherent overhead, including; meetings, design, analysis, training or knowledge transfer, preparation of documentation, support of legacy applications, breaks and general non-project specific activities.

Figure 2. The Question: During the last 12 months, what percentage of you or your companies’ total applications development time has been dedicated to Mobile/wireless application development?

The bracket to watch closely is the 50 percent-level, which has been growing steadily since spring of 2002. This and the next segments are a good indication of industry maturity and focus on wireless initiatives and projects. Within the 75 percent bracket, we are up again one point this cycle, and appear to be growing one point per cycle.

There is reasonable growth in the next two brackets?over the last several periods they have been increasing steadily; potentially a sign that investment dollars are returning to the industry. It is likely that many of these developers are associated with small, highly focused companies?which lack the administrative overhead of progressively larger organizations and can spend most of their time on wireless efforts.

Primary Consideration in Choosing a Platform
When selecting a device platform, wireless developers face a considerable range of options?operating system, hardware, consumer demand, development tools, network carriers, and internet capabilities.

The primary consideration for choosing a platform is the operating system. This criteria remains solid from the past survey cycle. Factors which drive operating system selection include; access to device features, popularity and installed base, vendor support, and, of course, a relevant array of application programming interfaces (API).

Figure 3. First Choice: This graph shows developers’ primary consideration when choosing a platform.

The hardware device was the next most significant selection criteria respondents identified. Differing devices offer discreet sets of capabilities and costs. If your application requires range-finding mixed with GPS capabilities, it could be a better choice to use a device with these features embedded, rather than rely on other components. Depending on the target market, it may be wholly appropriate to select only a single device to support.

Figure 4. The Question: When choosing a target platform, which do you consider first?

Next to the device itself, most developers attempt to perform platform selection based on overall device popularity; which is often a gamble, especially if the product is pre-release. Selection of both the device and its subsequent popularity account for a third of the criteria developers used during platform selection.

The remaining categories do little to factor into developer choice. In this business, the market dictates and programmers must follow.

Only five percent of participating developers are concerned about underlying network carrier when choosing a platform. Generally, most PDA devices support multiple, non-carrier specific connection mechanisms. Choices developers make when creating applications for mobile phones include: connected Web applications or some form of application runtime environment (J2ME, Java, .NET Compact Framework, BREW). With the widespread adoption of 2.5G & 3G networks none of these choices is generally carrier-dependent.

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