Thursday, July 22, 2004

Microsoft Mole?

Colly Myers almost destroyed Symbian when he was its CEO. He continues to say some of the same things (in this recent interview with The Feature) now that he leads IssueBits. According to The Feature Colly "...believes that OS-level applications have their place -- namely in extending the system level functions of a handset, but that Java applications make more sense for everything else" and he "....believes that the true mobile economy lies in services, and small Java applications are more akin to services, and more appropriate for cellular hardware / bandwidth than OS-level applications."

These are the same things that Colly, then CEO of Symbian, was saying to me two years ago, when I was the chief strategy officer for Borland trying to convince Symbian that they needed a development tools partner. Two years later, the world looks the same to me (and I guess to Colly) -- why doesn't Colly recognize that:
  • High-speed, reliable bandwidth is necessary for handset service-based applications to work and we don't have that now and won't have it for 10 years;
  • there will always be a set of applications, or at least pieces of applications, that need to be on the device, not the network, and they need to be high performance -- think Doom as an obvious example and extend from there;
  • 80% of all Java developers use the language as a SERVER development environment, not a client development environment. There are numerous problems with the quality of Java as a client side development tool, starting with standards;
  • and then there is the problem with the size of the development communities. There are something like 2 million Java developers in the world (that is, professional developers, paid full time to write code). 20% of them use Java for real client side applications -- so we'll be generous -- 500,000 developers. There are 5 million developers using Microsoft tools, and 80% of them use MS for client side applications. That's roughly 4 million developers.

Is Colly trying to help out Microsoft? Convincing the non-MS world to ignore the need for a native device-side application development environment is tantamount to handing the market for handheld computing devices to Redmond.

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