Will Mobile Development Slow in 2011?

With all the changes that 2010 brought, what will happen this year with applications and software development in general? this year? Here are a few interesting predictions for developers, courtesy of Mike Rozlog, product manager for Delphi Solutions at Embarcadero Technologies, a provider of tools for developers and database professionals.

Among other things, Rozlog believes mobile development will drastically slow; Java will continue to be the COBOL of the 90s; Google’s Chrome OS will remain an ‘appliance’ for the foreseeable future; and more ‘sur-charged’ OSes may follow the Apple iOS.

Mobile Application Development Will Slow

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While hoping his prediction is proved wrong, Rozlog said he believes many companies are coming to the conclusion that mobile applications don’t add to the bottom line.

“I have a lot of friends who have been on mobile application development projects, and many of those projects have been killed,” he said. “Why? Cost and ROI issues.”

Companies have been investing in customer service applications, which may give a more positive interaction for some customers, but they are not seeing the bottom-line grow compared to the investment, he said.

“For that reason, I believe there will be less general mobile development in 2011,” Rozlog added.

An example of such an app is one from an electric utility that allows users to look up their current bills and maybe even pay them.

“But will such an app get more people to sign-up for electric service?” Rozlog asked.

Java Will Be the COBOL of the 90s.

Most organizations will not get rid of Java but will hold onto it around for many, many years just like they held onto COBOL in the 90s, said Rozlog. “There are billions and billions of line of code written in Java,” he noted. “Companies are not going to dump their massive investments in Java.”

Rozlog does not expect to see much, if anything new in Java this year as Java is under the grip of Oracle, whose main priority for Java seems to be generating cash to the bottom-line.

He said he expects to see the introduction of more DSLs (domain-specific languages) that will run on-top of the JVM (Java Virtual Machine), while Java itself will continue to stagnate.

“By the by, don’t think this is good news for .NET lovers out there,” he said. “One of the things that I hold dear is that whatever happens to Java happens to .NET 3 years later.”

“Technology renews every generation, and every generation has a standard,” he said. “For the late 90s and early 2000s, the standard was Java. Now we are poised for something new and different. It could be scripting, or it may even be JavaScript or PHP.”

Google’s Chrome OS Will Remain an ‘Appliance’ for the Foreseeable Future

“My take on the Chrome OS is that it is focused on being an ‘appliance’ OS,” said Rozlog. “It is currently built with a Linux kernel and optimized for specific non-tech user situations, such as crash recovery, faster boot times, and optimization where the end-user would notice. That is why I call the OS an appliance because it is not your standard OS like Windows, Mac, or even Linux.”

Google is taking a minimalist approach to keep the OS and the applications simple, he said.

“The focus at this time does not appear to be standard natively compiled applications,” he said. Google is focusing on HTML 5 for a lot of the future features of the OS. The OS interface will have a lot more to do with the Chrome browser than a standard GUI desktop, so many applications may run in a panel or tab in the future.

“Google appears to be going after this market like it did with Android, allowing people and manufacturers to adopt it and mold it to their particular need,” he said. “This is a great, fast way to spread adoption, but that approach could also lead to the fragmentation we see in the Android space.”

Rozlog said he expects the Chrome OS will be on fire this year.

More ‘Sur-charged’ Operating Systems?

What is a sur-charged OS you may ask? Well, it is an OS with a charge for developers selling apps on that particular platform. Think Apple.

“I don’t have a problem with a closed system such as iOS adding a charge for apps to be delivered on the AppStore,” he said. “In most cases, the AppStore is a great value to developers. You build a piece of software, deploy it to the AppStore, and Apple takes care of the rest, even if you don’t have a tax id.”

Here’s the possible game-changer — Apple has added the same API of iOS to the next release of the Mac OS X. So, developers have to go to Apple to deploy an application to a standard Mac.

“Since the only ‘approved’ place in the future might be the AppStore, developers would have to give a portion of their app revenue (currently 30 percent) to Apple for the privilege of developing for the Mac OS,” he said.

If that happens, will developers play? Will consumers follow? Will other OS manufactures follow suit?

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