Mobile platforms on collision course
How long will it take for the shakeout to play out?
Both .NET and Compact Framework are around today, and people are using them. It will likely take
two to three years for this stuff to get heavily ingrained. The Symbian operating system is widely
used on smart phones. Where is that platform heading?
J2ME already runs on Symbian devices. It is more likely that someone working with those devices
would migrate to a Java environment. In the interim, what should companies do?
If you have a problem, solve it. If it means using third-party middleware, then [use it for two or
three years], but solve the problem now and get the payback. It makes sense to look at WebSphere
and Java or .NET if you are going down one of those paths anyway.
Are there any significant differences to consider between
the two platforms, or is the end result the same?
The back end is the top consideration. If your applications are running on Microsoft, then .NET
will integrate better. People argue that Java code is more efficient, but I'm not convinced that is
a valid argument. But Java does work well across multiple platforms, and you get an openness that
you don't get with Microsoft. Microsoft has no plan to support anything but its own end-user
platform. What kinds of criteria should businesses use when choosing a mobile platform path?
You have to look at this from an ecosystem perspective. Look at developer support. Look at the
back-end connections and what server-based applications you have to integrate with. Look at your
own internal developer environment. If you run Visual Studio .NET, you'll be better off going with
.NET. You should also look at your training and staff. You need to consider the entire ecosystem.
the goal is to have a single platform that everyone can write to and work from, rather than having
to buy middleware at all.
You say that mobile apps will be split between .NET and
Whenever Microsoft does anything, people listen. Inevitably, .NET will be very important. On the
other side, because of Oracle [Corp.], IBM and its WebSphere products, Java has a large installed
base. Right now, there are plenty of other approaches as well. There are iAnywhere, Synchrologic
[Inc.], Extended Systems [Inc.], a whole bunch of approaches. But as the market matures, it tends
to coalesce around key platform vendors. It is like the competition between Windows and Mac. The
same thing will happen in the mobile space. That way, developers won't have to write applications
for 15 different platforms. In the end, the market moves toward standardized platforms. .NET is one
of those massive -- and sometimes vague -- Microsoft initiatives. How does it apply to mobile
A small subset of .NET, called .NET Compact Framework, is designed to run on small devices with
memory constraints. It is to .NET as Java 2 Micro Edition (J2ME) is to Java. Overall, .NET is
Microsoft's next-generation framework that allows you to write applications that can run on
virtually any Microsoft device. What are the implications for businesses?
When companies deploy mobile applications, the first thing they do is look for a mobile middleware
platform so that they can write and run applications. Right now, that could be from any number of
vendors. In the longer term, companies will just use what they have in place. If you are a .NET
shop, then you will use the tools from Microsoft. If you are an IBM shop, then you will use Java.
It's not perfect, and it will take time to get there. Ultimately, the goal is to have a single
platform that everyone can write to and work from, rather than having to buy middleware at all.