Icenium is today launching what would appear to be a very compelling proposition – an environment that enables cross platform mobile development that decouples development from a particular development environment, full suite of developer products and SDK. Icenium decouples the compilers from the platform and makes the SDKs available in the cloud as a service. What this enables, as an example is for a developer to build an iOS app without xCode and without a Mac. The idea is that web developers can use their existing skills to build,test and publish mobile applications to Android and iOS – all without platform specific work. Icenium is spearheaded by Doug Seven, who previously headed up Visual Studio for Microsoft.
Icenium itself is a product borne out of Telerik, a global provider of software development tools that, for the past 10 years, has been all-Microsoft. Seeing the quantum shift to mobile, the company has shifted pririties to being cross platform – it also released Kendo Ui recently, a cross-platform mobile frame work for building mobile, desktop and web apps; and Test Studio for iOS, a free app to test web, hybrid and native iOS apps.
So what benefits is Icenium promising to developers and businesses? For developers:
- A decoupling of mobile development from proprietary mobile languages—if they can code for the web, they can build a mobile app
- The ability to target the most popular platforms and mobile-device form factors using just one tool
- The ability to move away from multiple SDKs. The Icenium platform is all that is required
- The ability to work on projects anywhere with a machine and an Internet connection
- The ability to build once, target many. No need to build, deploy, and maintain multiple versions of the same app
And the benefits to business:
- Build line-of-business apps that meet the unique business requirements
- The ability to make mobile apps within a reasonable budget and time frame, get to market faster, and see a swift ROI
- Adapt to bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies without adding another layer of device management
- Leverage in-house skillsets to get the job done without the cost of outside consultants
The value prop for Icenium makes sense – to target the most relevant platforms, developers need specific Mac and a Windows environments, as well as all of the individual proprietary platform SDKs. Alongside this it takes time, energy, and resources to learn Objective-C for Apple iOS and Java for Google Android, not to mention building for one of those platforms, only to rebuild for the other. Clearly, the platform providers care more about their technology than the developers’ need to work across all platforms. One solution for this is building to only one platform – this is a viable strategy for some use cases but for other not so much, which is where hybrid apps come in. Icenium enables the creation of these hybrid apps, but without any platform-specific work or toolsets. Of course the obvious question is what about the non iOS and Android platforms – one assumes that as they gain adoption, Icenium will roll them out also.
Key features of Icenium include:
- Individual SDKs are part of the Icenium platform hence developers can forget about them
- Icenium includes device simulation and debugging
- The simulator includes real-time updates across all supported devices
- Version control built in to the product
- Deployment automated via the Ion app in iOS
- On-platform support for publishing to both the Apple App Store and Google Play
It’s a busy space – just the other day AppsBuilder was reported to have raised around $2M to provide a similar service, but this time including Windows Phone support – I’m not sure how many “all in one” services the world really needs.