We still have several months to go, but one thing is certain: we’ll remember 2011 as the year that major mobile platforms started going extinct.
Six months ago, Nokia’s CEO announced that their entire Symbian software stack was a burning platform. RIP Symbian.
Just last week, HP discontinued the Touchpad. The fate of WebOS is unclear, but judging by their forum traffic (18 folks online as I type this) the writing’s on the wall.
When two of the largest companies in the world throw in the towel, you have to wonder who’s next. You would have thought that Symbian and WebOS were “too big to fail” given the companies that were backing them.
But that’s the thing about platforms. Building one is really really tough.
Even Apple back in the 90’s was near its death because they forgot what it meant to build a great platform. They mistreated their developers; they asked developers to adopt new technologies only to kill them the next day; they cared more about building market share through clones than building great products.
And here’s the rub. The vision, the code, the achitecture — that’s actually the easy part. The hard part is earning the trust and respect of developers, helping them build careers from using the platform, fostering a real ecosystem of 3rd party tools that complement the platform, and creating a community where developers are answering each others questions, sharing code, etc.
That takes real work. That takes a commitment to navigate the stormy waters, a deep passionate commitment to grind it out day after day, even in the face of great adversity (it took Apple a decade). And in the end, to constantly be thinking how platform decisions affect the lives of developers.
These are the standards to which we hold ourselves and the Corona platform, so we expect nothing less out of other device OEM’s and OS vendors.
You’ve seen us work on other platforms besides iOS and Android, but we haven’t announced official support. For example, our WebOS prototype demo video that we “leaked” last week and there was also some porting of apps to the NOOK Color. Now, we’re very deliberate about supporting a new device or OS. Seeing how many technologies come and go over the years, one of our biggest yardsticks is whether we think that platform will be around tomorrow.
After all, Corona is the oldest 2.5D mobile app platform out there. During that time, we’ve evolved Corona to what it is today. The more amazing thing is that we’ve never wavered from our initial vision.
So when folks ask us what’s the next device or OS we are going to support, we ask ourselves the standard questions around product quality and market traction. We also consider the likelihood that the company will be committed to a technology next year — or if the company/technology will even be around!
Consider Flash. Just a few years ago, Adobe was unquestionably committed to the technology. Today, they seem to be hedging their bets on open standards. Now if a company like Adobe whose DNA is all about software platforms can change their minds so quickly, it certainly makes you think twice about the commitment of brick and mortar companies entering the apps space!
The bottom line: when we support a new platform, we’re going to make sure it’s worth your while.