|By Jason R Briggs||
|March 1, 2002 12:00 AM EST||
You've heard this said before. In fact, If you regularly peruse the pages of JDJ, you've heard it here more than once. In case it hasn'y sunk in, repeat after me: J2ME (especially MIDP) will provide tremendous opportunities for developers.
Not convinced? Think about it, then: a virtually untapped market of mobile-savvy users who aren’t likely to dish out the thousands necessary to buy a computer, but will probably be willing to hand over a lot less money for something like a mobile phone. There are a lot of computer users out there, to be sure, but there are a lot more mobile phone and handheld device users. And mobile phones are far less daunting for a nontechnical person to come to grips with. There are fewer buttons, and the screen is smaller, which necessitates a much simpler user interface. It’s a technology that people are already comfortable with – hence it’s a good bet that they aren’t going to be uncomfortable with the idea of replacing their phone with a device that provides the additional capability to download new games and other applications.
They might not know that Java is the force behind this functionality, but if they can remove Snake and replace it with Pacman with just the click of a few buttons, there’s definitely a selling point there.
The one stumbling block in Java’s bid for world domination is the massive glut of mobile phones already on the market. People will undoubtedly need to upgrade at some point – as their phones get lost, stolen, broken, or become unfashionable – but how long will the process actually take before the majority of phones in use are MIDP-enabled? Well, I guess that’s for the phone manufacturers to predict.
A Veritable Obstacle Course
While MIDP development presents numerous opportunities to developers, the restrictions inherent in the platform also place a number of fairly major obstacles in your path (see Glen Cordrey’s article “Pushing the Limits,” JDJ, Vol. 6, issue 12).
Unlike when developing applets (or, indeed, server-side applications), it may not be as easy for a small development firm to reach its intended audience. Some networks may provide unrestricted Internet access to their customers; others may prefer a portal approach (so only a few preferred providers will be able to present their wares). Perhaps some mobile users who have a home computer will come across your MIDlet suite on the Web and choose to load it onto their phone. Users with no computer may have only restricted access through a TV, console, or WAP phone.
Your application may require various utility/support classes to provide necessary functionality; considering the memory on a mobile phone available for a MIDlet suite, if every suite uses the same library, a lot of storage space is wasted for no good reason.
Assuming you want to make money from your development efforts, how do you charge? Who do you charge? It will be beyond the resources of many small developers to go it alone, negotiate a contract with Sprint (for example), and interface with their back-end systems so that:
1. The software can easily be provided, in the right way, to the right phone.
2. They can charge the end user for the privilege of using it. (Unless, of course, they’re selling their software outright – and possibly selling away a chance at larger profits).
These difficulties mean that we as developers will have to come up with alternatives to the prepackaged shareware and e-commerce methodologies that have provided revenue streams in the past.
An Almost Open-Source Portal – the MIDP Cooperative
A number of companies have already developed (or are in the process of developing) server-side applications that assist in delivering applications to mobile phone users, along with the associated tasks involved in the process. Mobile provisioning is one of the terms used to describe these kinds of applications. Most provisioning applications will require a considerable investment (financial, infrastructure, and otherwise), and certainly the target market will be big corporations. Nextel, as an example, could use a provisioner to handle the applications available for their MIDP-capable phones.
Small developers, however, could be left out in the cold. Suppose I produce a game that I’d like to make money from; currently, I’ll have to contact the Sprints, Nextels, and BTs of every country in which I want to sell it. Then I’ll have to do a good enough sales job to convince them to either buy my software outright or give me a share of the revenue when their customers play my game. There aren’t a lot of other options. So…enter the MIDP Co-op.
Safety in Numbers
At www.midlet.org you can find a free Java repository for downloading various applications to your mobile phone. You can either download apps to your PC (and then transfer them to your phone from there) or use OTA (over-the-air) downloads if your network and phone provide that capability.
The MIDP Co-op (yes, it’s a crappy name…no, it wouldn’t actually be called that) would work in a similar way. However, instead of downloading any number of suites (usually one application per suite in the case of midlet.org), users could select a number of applications that would be packaged into a single suite, ready for download.
Rather than individual developers having to charge for their applications, the co-op would do the job. Users who want to download software to a PC use traditional e-commerce mechanisms (a secure Web site with some form of merchant/shopping cart facility), but OTA would require the co-op to negotiate with the various networks over delivery and payment. In the best tradition of the middleman, a certain percentage of the sale (or use fee) of an application would go to the co-op. Most of the money, of course, should (and would) go to the developer.
Here are a few more ideas on how it might work:
Compiled at Our Place
In the co-op, as final compilation would potentially be done on the server, only authorized utility libraries could be used in a hosted application. For example, applications requiring a floating point class would have to use the class provided by the community. If some guy decides that his floating point class is better (more efficient perhaps), he can submit documentary proof to the board of directors, who would make the final decision (probably based on its impact on other hosted applications). All utility classes would be required to be open source to community members, and, in the interest of fairness, developers of utility classes should be allocated a percentage of any sales.
Philosophy Be Damned
To save on philosophical arguments, it should be up to the individual developers whether their application source would be made available to other developers in the community – hence “almost” open source. The source would, of course, have to be uploaded to the server for any application to be hosted (and compiled) on the server, but it could be viewed only by community members, and only if the developer allows. Obviously, open sourcing an app should be encouraged because it means that the community as a whole benefits (newbie developers looking at veteran developers’ source code to determine the best way to accomplish a task, for example), but “religious views” should not be forced upon the members. One way of looking at it: If I don’t want to open source my application, then why the hell should I?
Remember that there’s a benefit to be gained in either case. Whether closed or open source, the more applications a co-op hosts, the more likely it is that visitors will come, download, and spend their money!
Initially the co-op would host only client applications. At some point it might possibly become financially viable to set up full server-side hosting as well. This means multiuser (multiplayer) applications with application server and database access. Multiplayer games seem to be a big draw in the PC world, so it stands to reason that the same will be true in the phone market – hosting multiplayer apps is going to be necessary for the co-op to thrive.
Tell It to the Board
The board of directors should initially be drawn from “interested” parties, those who have contributed to the estimated running costs (e.g., hosting, legal expenses) for the first years of operation. If/when the co-op becomes profitable, directors would be repaid (with interest, based on typical bank savings account rates over that period), and their position could then be voted on by the community at the end of the term of directorship (only community members would be eligible to run). If only contributors (those who have applications hosted on the site) could be community members, after the first elections only contributors would remain on the board.
Show Me the Money!
To get a better idea of how a co-op might work in the real world, let’s look at some figures. To start with we’ll make some guesstimates:
1. We’d have between 50 and 100 hosted applications at launch; midlet.org has, at the time of this writing, over 140 applications, so it seems reasonable to assume that the co-op could attract at least 50 for its initial launch (especially considering the enticement of possibly making money from your applications). Over time that number could be expected to grow, so the hosting requirements should take into account a certain amount of expansion.
2. Developers would set the price of their
applications, but should be encouraged to seriously discount them for at
least the first year of operation. (Note: Nextel is currently selling
applications ranging from a few dollars to $12.95.) A certain percentage
of applications would in-
evitably be free, which is a good thing if the co-op wants to attract more business.
3. The worst-case scenario for an application size is 128K, based on the maximum memory size in the MIDP specification. Assuming such a scenario, the storage space for a thousand MIDlets (if the number of applications hosted grew considerably, of course) would be in the area of 256MB (assuming the co-op holds both source and compiled files). Adding various infrastructure components (an e-commerce initiative) to this figure, along with annual hosting costs likely to be at least $3,000 (a conservative estimate based on an extremely quick skim of some popular hosting companies), source control, community support functionality…and the figure rapidly starts to climb.
4. The number of directors on our hypothetical board would be 12. Why 12? Why not?
5. Assuming a two-year hosting cost of $6,000, initial legal expenses of $3,000 (a complete guess), and an emergency buffer of $3,000, each director would need to contribute a total of $1,000.
6. Ten percent of total sales would go to the co-op to cover running costs, expense payment, and perhaps a nominal fee to each director. Another 2% would go into a kitty to be paid to the utility class authors.
We’ll make some additional assumptions regarding the average download and the distribution of applications according to price. At a guess, consumers wouldn’t spend more than $10 on a download, and are more likely to buy cheaper applications than the more expensive ones. For the moment we’ll assume that the most expensive application would cost $3 (see Table 1).
The number of monthly downloads would initially
be fairly small, but let’s get starry-eyed for a moment using Nokia’s projection
of over 50 million Java-capable mobile phones shipped by the end of 2002.
Assuming only a measly 0.1% of those 50 million would download the ave-
age application suite in a year, that’s still 50,000 people, total sales of $425,000, and income to the co-op (at 10%) of $42,500. The co-op could then consider purchasing its own server rather than using prepackaged hosting facilities, and paying off the initial board (even a minimal 5,000 downloads in a single year would mean that hosting expenses can be paid the following year).
The top developer might hope to attract 10% of the 50,000 downloads. Assuming the top developer also charges a top price ($3), he or she could make in the neighborhood of $15,000 for the year. Not a lot of money admittedly, but not bad, considering the developer would dish out a grand total of $0 to have the application hosted.
This is only a simple sketch of what might go into one such co-op or foundation. One thing is certain: going it alone in the wireless environment would be extremely difficult for the average individual developer. As a consequence, the J2ME developer community will somehow have to come up with ideas that are acceptable to larger groups of developers so the little guy, not just the big corporations, can make some money from J2ME development.
After all, it’s to be expected that some of the most innovative products will be those developed outside the confines of typically restrictive corporate environments.
Vive la communauté!
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cloud Academy will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Cloud Academy is the industry’s most innovative, vendor-neutral cloud technology training platform. Cloud Academy provides continuous learning solutions for individuals and enterprise teams for Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, and the most popular cloud computing technologies. Ge...
Feb. 19, 2017 01:15 PM EST Reads: 649
The best way to leverage your Cloud Expo presence as a sponsor and exhibitor is to plan your news announcements around our events. The press covering Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo will have access to these releases and will amplify your news announcements. More than two dozen Cloud companies either set deals at our shows or have announced their mergers and acquisitions at Cloud Expo. Product announcements during our show provide your company with the most reach through our targeted audiences.
Feb. 19, 2017 12:45 PM EST Reads: 965
20th Cloud Expo, taking place June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy.
Feb. 19, 2017 11:45 AM EST Reads: 937
SYS-CON Events announced today that Outlyer, a monitoring service for DevOps and operations teams, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Outlyer is a monitoring service for DevOps and Operations teams running Cloud, SaaS, Microservices and IoT deployments. Designed for today's dynamic environments that need beyond cloud-scale monitoring, we make monitoring effortless so you...
Feb. 19, 2017 11:30 AM EST Reads: 829
Have you ever noticed how some IT people seem to lead successful, rewarding, and satisfying lives and careers, while others struggle? IT author and speaker Don Crawley uncovered the five principles that successful IT people use to build satisfying lives and careers and he shares them in this fast-paced, thought-provoking webinar. You'll learn the importance of striking a balance with technical skills and people skills, challenge your pre-existing ideas about IT customer service, and gain new in...
Feb. 19, 2017 11:15 AM EST Reads: 1,638
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing Cloud strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @CloudExpo | @ThingsExpo, June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY and October 31 - November 2, 2017, Santa Clara Convention Center, CA. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is on the right path to Digital Transformation.
Feb. 19, 2017 11:15 AM EST Reads: 1,578
SYS-CON Events announced today that CrowdReviews.com has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 6–8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. CrowdReviews.com is a transparent online platform for determining which products and services are the best based on the opinion of the crowd. The crowd consists of Internet users that have experienced products and services first-hand and have an interest in letting other potential buyers...
Feb. 19, 2017 11:00 AM EST Reads: 1,543
With 10 simultaneous tracks, keynotes, general sessions and targeted breakout classes, Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo are two of the most important technology events of the year. Since its launch over eight years ago, Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo have presented a rock star faculty as well as showcased hundreds of sponsors and exhibitors! In this blog post, I provide 7 tips on how, as part of our world-class faculty, you can deliver one of the most popular sessions at our events. But before reading the...
Feb. 19, 2017 10:45 AM EST Reads: 7,626
While not quite mainstream yet, WebRTC is starting to gain ground with Carriers, Enterprises and Independent Software Vendors (ISV’s) alike. WebRTC makes it easy for developers to add audio and video communications into their applications by using Web browsers as their platform. But like any market, every customer engagement has unique requirements, as well as constraints. And of course, one size does not fit all. In her session at WebRTC Summit, Dr. Natasha Tamaskar, Vice President, Head of C...
Feb. 19, 2017 10:30 AM EST Reads: 6,521
TechTarget storage websites are the best online information resource for news, tips and expert advice for the storage, backup and disaster recovery markets. By creating abundant, high-quality editorial content across more than 140 highly targeted technology-specific websites, TechTarget attracts and nurtures communities of technology buyers researching their companies' information technology needs. By understanding these buyers' content consumption behaviors, TechTarget creates the purchase inte...
Feb. 19, 2017 09:45 AM EST Reads: 738
In the enterprise today, connected IoT devices are everywhere – both inside and outside corporate environments. The need to identify, manage, control and secure a quickly growing web of connections and outside devices is making the already challenging task of security even more important, and onerous. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Rich Boyer, CISO and Chief Architect for Security at NTT i3, will discuss new ways of thinking and the approaches needed to address the emerging challenges of securit...
Feb. 19, 2017 09:45 AM EST Reads: 1,142
Almost two-thirds of companies either have or soon will have IoT as the backbone of their business. Though, IoT is far more complex than most firms expected with a majority of IoT projects having failed. How can you not get trapped in the pitfalls? In his session at @ThingsExpo, Tony Shan, Chief IoTologist at Wipro, will introduce a holistic method of IoTification, which is the process of IoTifying the existing technology portfolios and business models to adopt and leverage IoT. He will delve in...
Feb. 19, 2017 09:15 AM EST Reads: 1,020
As cloud adoption continues to transform business, today's global enterprises are challenged with managing a growing amount of information living outside of the data center. The rapid adoption of IoT and increasingly mobile workforce are exacerbating the problem. Ensuring secure data sharing and efficient backup poses capacity and bandwidth considerations as well as policy and regulatory compliance issues.
Feb. 19, 2017 09:15 AM EST Reads: 1,559
SYS-CON Events announced today that Conference Guru has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 6–8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. A valuable conference experience generates new contacts, sales leads, potential strategic partners and potential investors; helps gather competitive intelligence and even provides inspiration for new products and services. Conference Guru works with conference organizers to pass great dea...
Feb. 19, 2017 07:45 AM EST Reads: 1,664
SYS-CON Events announced today that LeaseWeb USA, a cloud Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) provider, will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. LeaseWeb is one of the world's largest hosting brands. The company helps customers define, develop and deploy IT infrastructure tailored to their exact business needs, by combining various kinds cloud solutions.
Feb. 19, 2017 07:30 AM EST Reads: 1,406
Data is the fuel that drives the machine learning algorithmic engines and ultimately provides the business value. In his session at Cloud Expo, Ed Featherston, a director and senior enterprise architect at Collaborative Consulting, discussed the key considerations around quality, volume, timeliness, and pedigree that must be dealt with in order to properly fuel that engine.
Feb. 19, 2017 05:45 AM EST Reads: 4,725
WebRTC defines no default signaling protocol, causing fragmentation between WebRTC silos. SIP and XMPP provide possibilities, but come with considerable complexity and are not designed for use in a web environment. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Matthew Hodgson, technical co-founder of the Matrix.org, discussed how Matrix is a new non-profit Open Source Project that defines both a new HTTP-based standard for VoIP & IM signaling and provides reference implementations.
Feb. 19, 2017 05:00 AM EST Reads: 4,668
The Internet of Things is clearly many things: data collection and analytics, wearables, Smart Grids and Smart Cities, the Industrial Internet, and more. Cool platforms like Arduino, Raspberry Pi, Intel's Galileo and Edison, and a diverse world of sensors are making the IoT a great toy box for developers in all these areas. In this Power Panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists discussed what things are the most important, which will have the most profound e...
Feb. 19, 2017 04:00 AM EST Reads: 10,974
We all know that data growth is exploding and storage budgets are shrinking. Instead of showing you charts on about how much data there is, in his General Session at 17th Cloud Expo, Scott Cleland, Senior Director of Product Marketing at HGST, showed how to capture all of your data in one place. After you have your data under control, you can then analyze it in one place, saving time and resources.
Feb. 19, 2017 03:00 AM EST Reads: 3,822
910Telecom exhibited at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which took place at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, in November 2016. Housed in the classic Denver Gas & Electric Building, 910 15th St., 910Telecom is a carrier-neutral telecom hotel located in the heart of Denver. Adjacent to CenturyLink, AT&T, and Denver Main, 910Telecom offers connectivity to all major carriers, Internet service providers, Internet backbones and exchanges.
Feb. 19, 2017 02:30 AM EST Reads: 1,274