How Developers Make Mobile Applications Work
If you’re going to build one of those tiny i-mode websites or create a downloadable Java application (Games, anyone?), then you’re going to have to test your software before going live – and that means using emulator tools. If you don’t, you have to use actual handsets for testing and the packet fees would wipe out even the fattest bank account. We visit leading provider Zentek, and then speak with Tokyo University expert Dr. Sam Joseph – who has a lot of experience in making emulators actually emulate. Want to know what portion of a mobile project’s costs are consumed by testing prior to launch? Watch this one.
Comments from Wireless Watch Japan Editor-in-Chief Daniel Scuka:
Today, WWJ visits Zentek (www.zentek.co.jp), one of Japan’s foremost emulator software providers to talk about the nuts and bolts of testing and deploying mobile apps. The Zentek folks should know what they’re talking about: their i-Jade emulator package is rumored to be better than DoCoMo’s own tools, and is provided to J-Phone and KDDI for those carriers to use for their developer communities on an OEM basis.
In addition to simply simulating the look, feel, and display of mobile applications, one of the key functions that emulator tools must emulate is the data communication between the handset and the carrier’s wireless Internet gateway – the i-mode, J-Sky, or EZweb server. This is tough to do, since the carriers don’t generally make details of their servers widely public – for obvious security reasons. The difficulties become even more pronounced when you consider the problem of simulating, say, a GPS-interactive application when it’s running on a software developer’s PC – and not on a GPS-enabled cell phone.
We ask the Zentek folks what sort of problems they face, and further find out how much help the big carriers actually offer to third-party software providers like Zentek. And bless their hearts, but they also seem quite bullish on the future – and on the mobile Internet’s prospects overseas (despite the 3G meltdown).
No doubt, Japan’s mobile application and tool developers have a two-year lead on the rest of the world, but it’s tough out there – and the wireless Web’s getting a bad rap these days; Nice to see some optimism.
compared to 50 percent or more just a couple of years ago.
Sam’s a candid and engaging interviewee who speaks from a wealth of direct experience in making mobile applications work with little help from anyone else (and no help from the carriers).
The key point non-techies should pull from this program is that developing any kind of wireless service (beyond simple micro-Web pages or Java apps that just sit there) is expensive and requires testing – and emulators are a key part of this process. Emulators and testing will now consume only about 10 percent of your overall project cost – compared to 50 percent or more just a couple of years ago.