ALU acquires OpenPlug to boost carrier apps platform
Second purchase in three months brings cross-platform tools to multiple devices
Published: 1 September, 2010
Alcatel-Lucent continues its shopping spree in the applications space, as it seeks to create a wide-ranging software platform to support carriers' 'Telco 2.0' endeavours. This time, it has acquired OpenPlug, a veteran of cross-platform mobile development, adding to its recent purchase of ProgrammableWeb.
According to the larger vendor, the deal "further broadens the bridge ALU is creating for service providers to walk across to engage in applications enablement and level the playing field with Apple and Google. It will help enterprises and long tail developers reach connected consumers across a wide range of devices, while also filling apps stores."
OpenPlug is a French mobile software and apps tools vendor, which was an early player in the cross-platform world, when handsets first started to be differentiated by software as much as hardware features. In 2005, it unveiled its Configurable Phone Initiative, with support from its key carrier partner, France Telecom, addressing the challenge of adapting apps easily for different mobile devices and operating systems. Some of its efforts have been overshadowed by broader cross-platform activities in the open source and web worlds, but it remains a well established firm in this important area.
Its technology will become part of ALU's integrated suite of developer tools, allowing apps to be written once and run over any of the five major mobile OSs and their associated app stores. The acquirer said it will extend OpenPlug's functionality to service providers, enterprises and developers, to reduce time to market for new programs and services. In particular, OpenPlug's platform is suited to non-smartphone platforms and one of the leading priorities for many carriers - extending mobile software capabilities to emerging economies. Google has recently created a range of initiatives geared to new markets for Android, Nokia is already highly active in localized apps for India and other markets, and software specialists like Myriad are highly active on resource constrained phones too.
OpenPlug joins ProgrammableWeb, acquired in June, in the ALU software stable. The latter supports API-related content.
"While demand for mobile apps is peaking, so is the fragmentation of mobile development
platforms and tools," said Michael Cote, an analyst at Redmonk. "This makes it very expensive to target all devices and can lead to putting all your eggs in one, often tightly controlled basket, like Apple's, or doing a least-common denominator, mobile web app that can't benefit from full native device access."
Laura Merling, VP of ALU's global developer strategy, said in a statement: "As service providers typically offer multiple mobile devices to their subscriber base, the OpenPlug software can help them reduce time to market by as much as 80% by allowing them to easily port an application to all of their devices. And this isn't purely a mobile play - the software can be extended to support application development for IPTV set-top boxes, game consoles, even the ng Connect LTE Connected Car."