Ask any developer and they will tell you: Platform proliferation can be a pain. For any startup looking to crack into the business of developing applications for mobile devices, crafting software that can work with each and every brand of tablet and smartphone on the market can be both time consuming and expensive.
Luckily there's one application on virtually every mobile device that can help alleviate this particular headache for developers: the browser.
Despite the surging popularity of smartphone app stores and the demand for every brand, company and publisher to create their own mobile applications, many developers are looking to migrate those experiences to the browser via Web applications, which typically only need to be coded once and then work across a range of browsers on a wide variety of devices.
That's where Mygazines, whose parent company is Flyp Technologies Inc., comes in. The Torontobased startup already has a growing business providing publishers with its virtual publication technology, which creates reading applications that simulate real pages, but last week, it launched Mobile 3, a new platform that allows publishers to create the same virtual reading experience, only inside a mobile browser instead of a downloaded application.
"What we did early this year was come up with a mobile platform that had the same feeling as an app, but didn't have the same restrictions as an app," said Yoav Schwartz, Mygazines' chief executive, who cofounded the company with Randy Frisch, chief marketing officer.
"It didn't require listing or finding content in an app store or any other actions ... It's a way to really become device independent to allow our customers to deliver content in an attractive new way but through the channels they're used to."
While there are those in the technology world who believe certain applications, including games, may continue to thrive as download-and-install software on mobile devices, others contend even these sorts of applications will eventually be offered via the Web.
In fact, with the improvement of mobile browsers, especially on tablet devices, many companies are forgoing the development of certain mobile applications in favour of letting users find their sites via mobile browsers. Tor example, Facebook has yet to offer a dedicated iPad application.
"When we look at desktop computing, the trend is to do everything online," Mr. Schwartz said.
"Everything is moving to the Web so you don't have these installed applications. For some reason, when we move to the mobile space, what made it hot was doing the opposite. It's kind of a funny backwards thing that happened there. But as we saw with desktops, we're going to see those trends move to the mobile space."
Ensuring an application can work on both Apple Inc.'s iPhones and iPads as well as Research In Motion Ltd.'s BlackBerrys -- not to mention its forthcoming PlayBook tablet -- costs an organization both time and money.
Add to that the growing number of devices running Google Inc.'s Android software, Microsoft Corp.'s Windows Phone 7 operating system, Nokia Corp.'s Symbian platform, Hewlett-Packard Corp.'s webOS and other proprietary systems, and suddenly ensuring your app is available to everyone becomes a daunting challenge.
When that same application is based online and available through a browser, suddenly the amount of time it takes a publisher to take their content from the drawing board to the World Wide Web shrinks dramatically.
While there are several application development startups that specialize in helping publishers create digital versions of their content and distribute it to mobile devices, Mygazines is hoping to gain a leg up on the competition by offering its clients, which include Randall-Reilly Publishing and RedPoint Media Group, a variety of options for mobile publishing. email@example.com
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