The Open Coffee Derry meeting gained some valuable feedback on the new startup, I demoed a very rough and ready J2ME app. I’m not a great networker (fine online but will very rarely go out and meet and do all that stuff), but this meet is a good small encouraging one.From them it was a case of go for it or back off and think of something else. I’m glad I put the time in to do the demo mobile app, talking about “the idea” well it just isn’t the same. Here’s the app, here’s what it does and here’s the benefit to you. Basic feedback was great, same ringing in my ear was “do this on an iphone or ipod and we’ll talk some more”. So I went and got an iPod Touch…. Much to do but with this release the demo rollout can happen, but it’s opening up some other interesting possibilities.
Mainly to promote the Java runtime but it makes sense. Jonathan Schwartz’ blog from Monday outlined the new Project Vector in part but he’s leaving the meat on the bone until JavaOne.
And that’s what Project Vector is designed to deliver – Vector is a network service to connect companies of all sizes and types to the roughly one billion Java users all over the world. Vector (which we’ll likely rename the Java Store), has the potential to deliver the world’s largest audience to developers and businesses leveraging Java and JavaFX. What kinds of companies might be interested?
And it’s all down to user experience. Both The Register and Techcrunch have reported that Yahoo have sent an email to beta testers that they are essentially shutting down the Java browser app they profiled a few months back.So yet another iPhone++ and J2ME–. Shame.
The risk of there being too many app store type thing for mobile applications would always be in the back of my mind. Plus this is something for the community, this is about business, making money for the developer and the company as a whole.While Apple have never maintained that the App Store was a primary focus for them (not matter who’s breakdown of the revenue you read), others have jumped on the wide open band wagon of other app types. So Java, Brew and Blackberry apps are under heavy scrutiny as to how they can be made to good use. There’s been plenty of waves from Nokia about Ovi, due to open in the next few days if the rumour mill is anything to go by. Qualcomm sent out a press release today indicating the same thing regarding an app store, finally the Microsoft Marketplace will also be selling apps as well. Brew developers have their own set of problems (very much like the way J2ME has it’s own set of problems), very much a vendor lock in but Apple just seemed to do it better. Apple’s selling point is the hardware, the apps are just a little icing on the cake, they just control the icing gun, where it goes and how much goes where. My research over the last few days has just shown me that a lot of Java apps aren’t that great, we missed a big trick there regardless of how many billion devices it can go on. When you start talking to end users they very rarely download any apps onto onto the said billion or so devices. So it all starts to make bleak reading. No matter which way I looked at it, do my own app store for pure Java mobile apps, or write a decent app (why has no Twitter client on J2ME remotely embraced running it through SVG?, it would look great), at that point I gave up, jumped ship and started looking at iPhone/iPod development. Shame, it’s a great shame. I see the larger vendors possibly sinking an aweful lot of money that could be a lame duck.
Techcrunch brought Yowza (Yes, the startup with Greg who is in Heroes) into my field of view a few weeks ago, in fact on the same week I was thinking about what I’d possibly do if I owned an iPhone, a Mac and the SDK.Mobile shopping coupons, save on paper and all that. Perfect, I’ll get an iPod Touch… Then I was beat to it. This happens all the time, coded up a UK version of Ideeli and GiltGroupe type sites and on the day I was going to pick up the phone and start talking I was shown the full page advert for Brand Alley and immediately stopped. There’s been a bunch of others, the most comfort I can gleen from all this is (as put to me by a Silicon Valley veteran), “well at least you are thinking the same as the big guys”. There’s no Yowza in the UK, but it won’t be far off. There’s a possible avenue of looking at another platform (J2ME perhaps) and going down that route. All things are possible it’s just getting the merchants to sign up and the everyday public to download the app in the first place.
Starting to take over my thoughts quite a lot. The much fanfare of Nokia’s Ovi having 20,000 applications is all very well but they are not just plain applications, there are a lot of feed services weaved into all that as well.What’s interesting to watch in Java space in regards to applications is the content layer that folk are using. Nokia have Widsets which totally failed to impress me. The best I’ve seen so far is Snaptu, searching around there are claims of a developer API but I can’t find one anywhere. In developing a mobile client for the app store I’d like to have something with a decent look and feel, Snaptu’s interface looks great, I just don’t know how to get my hands on it. What really excites me is the inclusion of JavaFX into mobile devices. This could turn J2ME’s fortunes around but Sun seriously need to look at the consumer and not heavily focus on the developers. As to what devices will support JavaFX remains to be seen, but I seriously think that this second wave of decent J2ME/FX mobile applications could be a good thing.
Something in it for the developer?
There has to be a revenue share between the store and the developer. Sun’s main failing on J2ME was to oversell to the developer and not talk up the benefits to the everyday consumer. Apple has got the mix right with a 70/30 split, any other app store should be looking at the same. Developers still have to shout loud about their apps regardless of platform. You can make the money but it takes effort on both our parts.
With the iPhone there’s really only one phone to worry about. This is a major showstopper on a decent app store for Java mobile apps. I have a Nokia E51, brilliant phone, but I don’t really know what apps are going to work with it. There has to be some form of intelligence detection when the phone queries the store, “Hi I’m an E51 what apps will work….” Verification of Apps
Manual checking of newly registered apps. Apple are choosy, so am I. I want the creme de la creme of J2ME apps, it’s makes it easier for me to sell them. Developers should be striving to get their apps within the top ten of the Java App Store. Is Free gonna do it?
Is free a real business model for you? For games, more than likely not. For some services that can make revenue from other sources like cost per click activity or supplier buy in then fair enough. I don’t have an iPhone but I was impressed with the idea behind Yowza (that nice chap from Heroes, Greg Grunberg, it was his idea and boy that helps with the marketing too). Sun heavily got into the “community” and the open source thing but some developers mistaken that community as free. It’s nice to give some stuff away but it’s also nice to put food on the table. The Cathedral and The Bazaar still has a place in the hi tech economy but are the open sourcers really making money? Build It and They Will Come
Now I’m working on that bit…. So, are you building J2ME apps?
Good ones, real good ones, yeah. Perhaps we should talk.
It’s been heads down for the last couple of weeks, though I did surface for the Open Coffee Derry meeting last week.So I’m still grappling with the whole J2ME/iPhone App Store thing with a lot of ideas bouncing around my head. My train of thought stopped as I was asked to cover the Danny Boy Festival for a local paper (still got my photography business to think about).