Mobile developers sceptical about new Microsoft iOS and Android porting tools

Reuters reports that Microsoft’s moves to ease porting of iOS and Android apps to Windows Phone has not been met with much enthusiasm by the mobile developer community, with most not planning to bring their software to Windows Phone.

The issue appears to be a function of the small market share of Windows Phone combined with perceptions of how useful the tools will be.

“Windows phone will have to gain a significant share of the market before this becomes something that saves us time and/or money,” said Sean Orelli, a director at app development firm Fuzz Productions in New York, which makes apps related to Citibank, the New York Post, and Conde Nast, among others.

Due to this, “it’s going to be hard for developers to prioritize building for Microsoft,” said John Milinovich, chief executive of URX, a mobile ad service that creates links between apps.

Erik Rucker, head of mobile at Smartsheet, which makes an online tool to manage projects, said he doesn’t plan a Windows app version. He doubts tweaking an iPad or iPhone app for Windows would be simple.
“We’d end up writing a whole bunch more code,” to move over an Apple app that was tightly integrated with the device, he said.
For Jason Thane, general manager at General UI, a mobile app developer based in Seattle, the cost of developing a Windows app from another system would need to fall to about 10% to 20% of the cost of building it.
“It can cost 50% or more of the cost to develop an app on one platform to port it to a new platform,” said Thane, who hasn’t yet used the new tools. “So if Microsoft has a way for our customers to do it easily and cheaply, and if there’s no serious performance or functionality impact, I think they’d have a lot of people wanting to do it.”
Even a little extra effort is too much for some smaller developers, including former Microsoft executive Adam Tratt, who now runs Haiku Deck, which makes presentation software primarily designed for iPads.
“I’d like to at some point, but we’re not working on it yet,” he said. “It’s a function of resources.”

In their survey eight developers said they aren’t planning to develop for Windows 10 at all. Four who already have Windows apps said they would continue to do so.

Some who did confirm support included Walt Disney Co., Netflix Inc. and USA Today, who all confirmed they are developing apps for Windows 10.
USA Today, owned by media giant Gannett Co., is building a “universal” app for Windows, which will run across PCs, tablets and phones. But instead of reusing code from its existing Windows apps, or porting from Apple or Android, the development team opted to start fresh.

The best experience was always going to be achieved with tools made for a given software system, said Christopher Kamsler, manager of mobile development at Gannett, and even with those his team had to tweak the app to work for different sized devices.

A Microsoft spokesman said that “it is still early” and many software companies want to explore the tools over the coming months.

It’s an uphill battle for Microsoft, said Frank Gillett, an analyst at tech research firm Forrester.

“Android and iOS are in the zone, the Windows guys just aren’t there yet,” he said.


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