Altabel Group's Blog

Archive for August 2011

Smartphones, our addiction to mobile apps, and broadband gluttony are all putting us on a path to wireless broadband scarcity. We’ve all experienced it on our Smartphones: long waits for buffering videos, apps that hiccup when your Net connection cuts out, and WebPages that take forever to load. According to experts, what we are experiencing are hints of an impending wireless broadband drought.

Can we avoid that?

In my opinion, No. Spectrum is a finite resource, and there seems to be an infinite demand.

There are also limits to how much data we can cram into a given amount of spectrum, which are based on laws of physics. Current technologies are approaching those theoretical limits, so any gains there will be incremental, at most.

Barring any unexpected breakthroughs, we are pretty close to maxing out.

Yes, we can kill off a few more older technologies to free up spectrum (like we did with analog TV), but still, there’s not much left to kill off. For example, we can do the same with AM & FM radio, but there isn’t much spectrum there to grab.

The next real opportunity is the expensive route – creating more capacity with existing wireless networks by building smaller cells and lots more base stations. That’s expensive, and the NIMBY factor only makes it more so. There are practical limits in THAT direction, too. There’s a bit of satellite spectrum that might be used for terrestrial networks, but again, there’s not much, and it’s not really very good spectrum for that purpose.

Things are going to get interesting, and “unlimited data” for consumers is very much on the endangered species list.

We’d better get used to it.

We live in interesting times! We have assumed that bigger & better is always possible, that there are no limits to what we can do. Well, there are, and we’re pushing them. People are going to have to adjust their expectations.

Kind Regards,
Lina Deveikyte
Altabel Group

Google buying Motorola Mobility is destined to cause a major shake-up in the Android ecosystem, but it’s also going to reverberate across the entire mobile space. In light of Apple’s success in vertical integration and Hewlett-Packard buying Palm, the Google-Motorola deal could now force Microsoft to buy out one of its hardware partners in order to keep pace with its rivals.

The deal is a big win for Motorola Mobility, which has produced some of 2011’s most innovative Android devices — the Motorola Xoom tablet and the Motorola Atrix and Motorola Photon Smartphones — but its products have suffered from tepid sales, been a little bit ahead of the market, and have sometimes gotten lost in the shuffle of the burgeoning market of Android devices. Putting the Google brand name on these Motorola devices would immediately give them a lot more marketing punch and consumer appeal.

But, Google is also going to have to deal with fallout from other Android partners. A lot of companies have been rallying around Android over the past 24 months — Samsung, HTC, LG, Lenovo, ASUS, and many more. Google just made all of them feel like second-class citizens in the Android ecosystem. They will start worrying that Google is going to keep its best Android innovations close to the vest, release them on their own Google-branded devices (made by Motorola), and then let the rest of their hardware partners scramble to find a niche to innovate on.

The biggest potential loser in the Motorola deal is HTC, a much smaller company that’s focused primarily on Smartphones. HTC is all about design, innovation, and being first to market with cutting-edge devices like the HTC ThunderBolt, which was the first Smartphone to run on Verizon’s next-generation LTE network. You have to think that in the future, companies are now going to partner directly with Google for leading-edge Android devices.

This could push HTC toward Microsoft. HTC was originally focused on Windows Mobile devices, but Android arrived on the scene at a time when Microsoft’s mobile strategy was unclear, so HTC shifted most of its effort to Google and delivered excellent designs, such as the Nexus One and popular devices like the HTC EVO. Still, HTC has retained its ties with Microsoft. When Microsoft pulled off its mobile reboot with Windows Phone 7, HTC jumped on board as a partner and has produced two of the best WP7 designs — the HTC HD7 and HTC Trophy.

There is still a lot more sales potential in the Android ecosystem than the WP7 ecosystem, so I wouldn’t expect HTC to abandon its Google partnership in favor of Microsoft. But I wouldn’t be surprised if HTC was suddenly a lot more willing to listen if Microsoft come calling with a buyout offer. With all of its main rivals — Apple, Google, and HP — now vertically integrated in mobile, Microsoft is going to have to seriously consider whether it has to go the same route. If it sticks to the third-party model alone, it will have a hard time keeping up, since it takes a lot more time to release software and coordinate with vendors than to have hardware and software divisions working hand-in-hand throughout the entire product development life cycle.

There’s also one other issue Microsoft has to consider: Nokia. Earlier this year, the two companies signed a huge deal to get Nokia to ditch Symbian in favor of Windows Phone 7 as its primary Smartphone platform. If Microsoft bought HTC and started releasing Microsoft-branded WP7 devices, it could sour the Nokia deal and push Nokia to pursue Android devices in addition to WP7 phones. With a Nokia partnership and joint development already in progress, it may simply be more likely that Microsoft would purchase Nokia over HTC — although if Microsoft wanted to get really serious about vertical integration in mobile, it could potentially purchase them both.

BR,
Kristina Kozlova
Altabel Group – professional software development

Times are tough for BlackBerry-maker Research in Motion (RIM). But maybe there are some reasons why it’s still too early to count RIM out?

LI professionals have different opinions on this point:

«I’ve lost faith in them – look to be a “one-hit wonder”. They dominated the business device market for over a decade with their one trick of really effective email to a handheld device, but they have failed to really move forward with the rest of the Smartphone market, and I think they are done as a major player.»
Bernard Gore
Programmer, Project & Change expert

«I think that RIM will eventually focus on the enterprise market and the consumer space will not be a priority. Many corporations have a huge investment in BB tech and I do not believe there is a solid interface between Lotus Notes and iPhone. They will no longer lead the market but will have an emphasis on security etc. as we have seen with the Playbook being the first tablet certified for use by US government. So keeping the faith depends on what markets you are in…»
Steve McKenna
Government Solutions Executive

«Blackberry is number one in the business market, what I do see at the moment is people with a work Blackberry and a personal iPhone (or every now and than an Android device).
Will that change fast? Not if the other come up with security of the BB.»
Ronald van de Meent
Financial Systems specialist

«In terms of a company they are not listening to the shareholders. They are keeping the same management staff that is not viewing Google/Apple as a competition and altering their model to compete. Right now RIM is laying off workers thinking that will solve the issue. RIM is headed down the toilet until someone can rescue them soon or they are going to be irrelevant just like Palm was before it got bought out.»
Ryan Donnell
Associate 2 at State Street

«There are two viewpoints to consider here, business and consumer.
First, from the business viewpoint. Blackberry is historically (and still is, according to the latest comparisons), far more secure than any other Smartphone available. For some businesses, that is sufficient reason to stick with Blackberry. However, business that aren’t as concerned with security can consider other options. Then, other factors, such as application availability, network integration capability, and employee happiness, come into play. Other phones can easily compete in these areas, giving serious market competition to the Blackberry.
Now, from the consumer viewpoint. For most consumers, security is a minimal factor when selecting a phone. That puts Blackberry at a serious disadvantage in the consumer market.
My opinion is that the two markets will slowly merge, as we move slowly towards a society that sees the phone as an extension of the person. The consumer viewpoint will infiltrate the business viewpoint, and more businesses will either give their employees a choice of Smartphones or allow them to integrate their personal Smartphone. Whether this will be good or bad is difficult to say.»
James Tullos
Engineer at Software and Engineering Associates, Inc.

And what are your reasons for still believing in BlackBerry?

Kind Regards,
Lina Deveikyte
Altabel Group – professional software development

In the beginning there was SharePoint, a platform for collaboration and content management. It allows people to work together. It’s an easy task to set up a site where people can share information and manage documents from start to finish.

SharePoint 2007 was already good, but SharePoint 2010 is even better. New features such as taxonomy, document sets, content organizers, and better record management make it to an attractive platform. The user interface on the other side is not that attractive. But with a little bit of branding you can create a new look.
And here enters Silverlight. Silverlight is a powerful development technology for creating attractive and interactive user interfaces.

The first version of Silverlight was released in 2007. It was merely JavaScript based. Almost everybody was skeptical about it, and it was said that it would never have the grandeur of Flash. But as versions come and go, Silverlight has become a full-blown solid technology for designing powerful user interfaces.

A Silverlight application can be more than a pretty user interface created by designers; you can also add code to it to give it a more functional aspect. Because Silverlight classes are a subset of the .NET Framework, it makes it easy for .NET programmers to add the necessary functionality. Moreover, a designer can create the user interface with a tool like Microsoft Expression Blend and hand it over to the developer, who can open it in Microsoft Visual Studio and complete the application.

In April 2010, Silverlight 4 was released with yet another new set of features.
There is a belief that Silverlight can play a powerful role in the branding of SharePoint sites. Silverlight applications can communicate with a SharePoint site and thus render SharePoint data in an attractive way.
The first versions of Silverlight were hard to integrate with SharePoint, asking for a number of modifications in the web.config file of each SharePoint web application. It drove a lot of SharePoint developers (and even a number of well-known SharePoint gurus) mad. As of Silverlight 3, this hurdle has disappeared.
In SharePoint 2007, communication was possible only through the SharePoint web services or through custom WCF services. But SharePoint 2010 comes with a set of client object models that makes it easier for developers to have a Silverlight application communicate with SharePoint.

In SharePoint 2010, Silverlight is already integrated out of the box: if you want to create a list or a site, you are presented with a Silverlight wizard. SharePoint 2010 also comes with a Silverlight web part that lets you render a Silverlight application that you uploaded to a document library or deployed to the SharePoint hive. There is also the out-of-the-box Silverlight media player. This is a Silverlight application that you can host within the Silverlight web part and that displays your media files.

A View on the Future

In December 2010, Silverlight 5 was announced. This version of Silverlight will add some great new features and capabilities for premium media solutions across browsers, desktops, and devices. The first beta version of Silverlight 5 became available in April, 2011.

Silverlight for Windows Phone is the application development platform for Windows Phone 7. Silverlight uses the XNA framework for audio capture and playback and can even access Xbox Live. This XNA framework is provided by Microsoft for high-performance gaming, used on Xbox.

In 2010 we entered the mobile phone era. We use our mobile phones for calling people or sending short messages, but more and more we are also using the Internet from our phones. Many companies see the hole in the market and start developing mobile phone applications. The banking sector, for example, will offer its services through mobile phone.

When talking about Silverlight integration in SharePoint, most developers think primarily about web parts. But this integration can reach far beyond that. You can host Silverlight applications from within most SharePoint artifacts such as custom fields, custom list forms, list views, application pages, master pages, navigation, search, and so on.

In that light, there is definitely a future for SharePoint-based applications running on mobile phones. Don’t you think so? What other future predictions can you make for SharePoint and Silverlight? Do you think these technologies are a good choice?

Regards,
Natalliya
Altabel Group – professional software development

Mobile gaming has really taken off in the past few years and continue to growth. The numbers are impressive. Mobile phone and tablet gaming sales in the U.S. reached $898 million in 2010 according to some forecasts revenues will reach $1.6 billion by 2015.

Let`s try to list key trends in mobile games developmet that can help to cast light on the future of mobile games development

1. The Freemium Model

Potential revenue for freemium apps (download the game for free, and then pay for upgrades such as additional levels, or virtual goods like hats for the characters in the game) outweighs paid apps. While the freemium model seems great in theory, paid games currently rule the industry.
Still it is possible to imagine that publishers will continue to innovate into the freemium space in hopes of increasing profits. As a result, we may see a balancing out of revenue between paid and freemium apps in coming years.

2. Tablet Gamers Download & Play More

Tablet devices have larger screen sizes and more computing power, while still being portable, potentially making them a better fit for gaming than mobile devices.

38% of tablet gamers play five or more hours per week, while only 20% of mobile phone gamers play that much. Tablet gamers even download more paid and free games.

3. Users Crave Multiplayer & Social Features

Customers enjoy multiplayer games for their competitive and social aspects. Despite their digital medium, ‘social’ and ‘multiplayer’ signify human interaction.

The success of some multiplayer-only gamesalso points towards consumer interest in mobile gaming with others.

4. Word of Mouth Is the Key Driver for Game Downloads

How do users hear about new mobile games? The top ways are:

From Friends: More than 50% of mobile game-playing adults learn about new mobile games from friends and family.
In App Stores: About 40% of adults learn about new games within app stores, where hot lists, rankings and user reviews are highlighted.
On Social Sites: 25% of adults hear about new mobile games via social media sites.

Besides these methods, there are also a number of well-trafficked mobile gaming sites that highlight and review games, chronicle new releases and publish cheat codes and tips.

5. 3D applications

Development of 3D apps and mobile games is very much in demand today, much like the demand for Xbox games and PlayStation games. Most analysts agree that in the near future, an average user would be able to have much more interactivity and fun within the mobile itself. Though the 3D gaming experience is at a nascent stage, do not be surprised if 3D games get found in most smart phones in the near future.

Hope these points will help to clarify the future of mobile gaming. And what are you ideas about its future?

BR,
Anna Kozik
Altabel Group – professional software development

What does the future of Java look like? Many users see Java as stuck in a quagmire, while others go so far as to say Java is dead. Is it really so?

Java, one of the long-dominant platforms for building enterprise solutions, has been steadily evolving since its first release in 1996, with a new major version coming every one to two years. However, Java 7 has been stuck in a quagmire for four years, with the Java community struggling to refine the implementations of two of its sub-projects, Project Jigsaw and Project Lambda. However when the Java Specification Requests for Java 7 have finally been approved for release, Projects Jigsaw and Lambda were delayed until Java 8. This news has disappointed many in the community, as these two features were seen as the major draw of Java 7.

Many users see Java continuing to languish. Still the innovation needed to keep Java relevant will come from broader Java ecosystem, and not from Oracle or the Java Community Process that governs changes to Java.

The Java ecosystem, driven by the open source community, has always compensated for Java’s inadequacies.

And more and more often the community turns to new programming language paradigms, as it is uncertain whether the Java programming languages will be able to innovate fast enough to keep that attention of developers seeking the next challenge.

Java is traditionally viewed as just a programming language, but it is more than that. Java consists of three parts: the programming language, the virtual machine and the class libraries. The community has long been porting existing languages and creating new languages that run on the JVM. In fact there are over 200 programming languages that can be used to write code that runs on a Java Virtual Machine.

The beauty in using a programming language other than Java on the JVM is the most languages have interoperability. This means that you could take a new service being built in your system, write it in some other language, and still have it call an existing pure Java service or component.

The idea of using a specific programming language to achieve a particular task should not seem foreign to developers. Web application developers have to be fluent in at least five programming languages in order to build a modern Web application – HTML for the Web content, CSS for styling and the layout of this content, Javascript if you want a rich user interface, SQL if your application is to be data-driven and, lastly, the programming language and platform you have selected for the middle-tier business logic.

This model makes perfect sense. CSS is good at defining the look and feel of a Web page, but you wouldn’t write business logic with it. SQL is great for accessing and updating relational data, but it is not good at generating a user interface. So why shouldn’t this paradigm apply to the programming languages with which we choose to build our core logic? Shouldn’t we be choosing a language that solves the problem best and not trying to force the one we know into the solution?

Another huge advantage of the polyglot JVM is that when you begin to weave these various languages together to write a single application. By taking advantages of the characteristics of various JVM languages, you can target languages for various features or layers in your architecture.

The most common argument against using dynamic languages running in the JVM is that they are slow. Although this might be true, they are getting faster all the time, and a major performance gain is expected in Java 7 with the Invoke Dynamic JSR.

Clearly, this approach is not without added complexity and there are various recommended approaches in the industry on how to evolve your application architecture into a polyglot nature.

Java remains the premiere platform for building enterprise applications based on not only its solid foundation, but its language innovations that will allow developers to build faster, scalable systems quickly. By taking advantage of the flexibility that Java has always provided and adding a polyglot and poly-paradigm approach to software development, development teams can innovate inside an existing infrastructure with little or no changes to their infrastructure, making the sales pitch to management all the easier.

Java has evolved and will continue to evolve, with this changing landscape due to the flexible nature of the java platform. This is the advantage that makes Java relevant now and will keep it relevant for years to come.

So does it still make sense to build new-generation Web applications on Java? The answer is yes, fortunately, due to the rise in popularity of polyglot programming and the innovations it brings to the Java platform. Do you personally agree with this?

Kind regards,
Aliona Kavalevich
Altabel Group – professional software development

Any app listed in the App Store that isn’t free is subject to an Apple tax every time a sale is made. Developers accept that charge and in return gain access to millions of Apple device owners and potentially a large income stream.

What surprised a few companies is that this 30% cut doesn’t just cover buying apps in the store, it also applies to in-app purchases including subscriptions. That caused a few issues for publications wanting to actually make some money from a digital subscription through an iPhone or iPad. Apple’s 30% on that monthly or yearly charge removed all profit and then some making it unworkable

Today publishers can get around Apple’s in-app sales capabilities and therefore tax using HTML5. HTML5 services can replace the purchasing buttons with a dedicated Web address that takes users to a direct link to the purchasing service on the Internet.

The benefits go beyond just 30% savings. By having an independent codebase not targeted to a specific platform the app can easily be customized for every platform, which includes Android devices in the near future. There is also no approval process to go through so new features can be rolled out more quickly, there are no 3rd party guidelines or rules to abide by, and there’s no app to install, you just visit a URL instead.

The first major newspaper to take this route is international business newspaper the Financial Times. It implemented an HTML5 web app catering to both iPhone and iPad users.

While the Financial Times admit implementing its HTML5 app was not an easy job, they see it as the future due to the flexibility it offers. It favors no one platform, but lets you target many and customize for each from one code base while retaining 100% of the revenue.

With several developments from Adobe and Google, and Sprout, an HTML5 application platform has gained interest as an acquisition target. The programming language is gaining traction as connected devices grow in relevance, and there are many ways to leverage its evolving standards in every way possible. So what do you this of this one? And do you know more examples?

Please share your knowing with us!

Kind regards,
Aliona Kavalevich – Business Development Manager (LI page)
Aliona.Kavalevich@altabel.com
Altabel Group – Professional Software Development


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