App-solutely on the money?
A consortium of European businesses have joined together to develop a single universal app platform for every kind of internet-connected device and have received €10m from the EU to help their endeavour.
The project is designed to give people access to apps using a web approach, no matter what os or device they use, which could prove especially handy as IPTV is widely adopted.
Led by the Fraunhofer Institute FOKUS, Project ‘Webinos' is co-funded by the EU to the tune of €10m as well as industry players such as Sony Ericsson and Samsung. Internationals internet standard body W3C is also in on the action.
"The vision of the project is to create ‘a universal application platform'. That means, we aim to enable the use of web applications consistently and securely across all internet-enabled screens - including mobile, PC, TV and in-car entertainment units," said Dr Stephan Steglich who is leading the project.
The project aims to serve industry-wide interests and hopes that the technology will get rid of technical barriers for making mobile internet platforms and instead allow companies to develop new business models.
"This open source regime will be a starting point for an open foundation which provides its members a standardized, interoperable technology to design and operate any web related application on any device or system," said Steglich.
He told the BBC there is a problem of ‘extreme platform fragmentation' as apps can only usually run on certain platforms, Android and iOS being the most popular.
"Companies can afford to have an app on two or at most three platforms - they're extremely costly to develop and ensure the user experience," he reportedly said, but believes the universal platform could solve the problem of fragmentation and make better business sense.
"Rather than develop yet another operating system or work on a service that "translates" software from one platform's code into another's, the project's central idea is to make applications run in a web environment, rather than directly in the depths of a given device's operating system. The greatest common denominator among all these devices is the web browser - that's the only thing people can use to accept the same content," Steglich reportedly added.
But while it might sound a great idea in principle, industry experts have told the BBC it is unlikely to come to fruition.
Shashi Fernando, CEO of content delivery firm, Saffron Digital, reportedly warned Webinos is unlikely to spark an app revolution.
So far there have been some smaller scale attempts to integrate various mobile platforms, but Apple has shown no interest in doing so, which is perhaps little surprise as it currently dominates the app universe, boosting the appeal of its iOS products. Fernando said that if Apple does not co-operate the project lacks one of the fastest growing manufacturers.
"I think the problem is that these groups don't really understand there are companies that... create platforms that work across multiple devices. There is no interest in a standardisation of platforms because those companies need to differentiate their product," she told the BBC.