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Application refactoring vendors Reddo, StarMobile closing

With Reddo Mobility and StarMobile out, only a handful of application refactoring companies remain -- and they're ripe for acquisition.

IT has not developed much of an appetite for application refactoring, and two vendors have felt the consequences.

Reddo Mobility, a Cambridge, Mass., startup, shut down after a potential sale went south earlier this year, according to former CEO John Vigeant. StarMobile Inc., based in Atlanta, has ceased doing business and is in the process of determining product support for its existing customers, according to a source with direct knowledge of the situation who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Reddo spun off from app development company Gizmox in September 2014. It received early funding from several companies, including Citrix, and in January 2015, it announced a $4.25 million funding round.

"Unfortunately, we were in a sale that fell apart, and [the company's] capital structure made more financing difficult, so we had to close," Vigeant said in response to a reporter's inquiry on LinkedIn.

StarMobile was founded in 2012 and came out of stealth mode with a $2.5 million investment in October 2013. Just this April, the company received notification it qualified for a patent on its rapid mobile application development technology. VMware had been intent on acquiring StarMobile, but that fell through, according to the anonymous source.

In an emailed statement, StarMobile CEO Todd Fryburger said the company is "actively reviewing its options, including new sources of funding or a strategic sale."

'A great product, but ...'

Application refactoring reformats the user interfaces of desktop applications to optimize them for use on mobile devices. Demand for the technology isn't high yet, so the companies selling these products aren't able to make the money they need to stay afloat, said Eric Klein, director of mobile software at VDC Research Group Inc., in Natick, Mass.

The technology makes sense, but ... businesses are not quite there in terms of being ready to use these types of tools.
Eric Kleindirector of mobile software, VDC Research

"The technology makes sense, but ... businesses are not quite there in terms of being ready to use these types of tools," Klein said. "They're just not rolling out apps in the way people thought they would and as soon as people thought they would."

Remaining vendors in the application refactoring market include Capriza, PowWow Mobile and hopTo.

Acquisitions by larger enterprise mobility vendors are most likely in the future for these companies, Klein said. Possible buyers could include Citrix, VMware, Microsoft and even SAP or Oracle, he said.

"It wouldn't cost a lot of money ... so that is probably the way this is going to go," he added. "Those companies are all trying to get into the app side of things themselves ... and they recognize that customers are going to start looking for those products once they've secured their devices."

PowWow is the biggest player left standing, and it seems to be having success, Klein said. The company hired Kia Behnia, former CTO of BMC Software, as its new CEO in May.

"He's definitely got a lot of enterprise gravitas and connections," Klein said. 

For customers, the draw of most app refactoring technology is it doesn't require manual coding. Its virtualization and drag-and-drop design tools let administrators -- and sometimes even end users -- select menus, layouts, themes and other features for a mobile interface.

"It's a powerful way of not having to rewrite your applications," Klein said. "Most of them have a great product, but ... a lot of these companies aren't investing a lot in marketing, so they haven't really gotten the word out."

Editorial director Colin Steele contributed to this report.

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Do you think the app refactoring market will survive? Why or why not?
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Believe that the app refactoring for mobiles is not really the best way to refactor a web-based application to make it mobile enabled. The process itself needs to change, therefore, it is not just reorganizing of the UI, but really a re-engineering of the process to make it mobile friendly and mobile enabled. This involves mining the existing process, re-organizing the process to make it mobile-enabled (based on potential mobile-friendly characteristics of processes), and then creating a UI to suit the new, modified process.

Would re-factoring tools do this? Or, do you need tools to re-engineer processes?

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