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Thursday, July 30, 2009

Enterprise mobile developers need to geta grip on API standardisation initiatives

I've just got off a call hosted by the Mobile Entertainment Forum, with the GSMA, Vodafone & O2, talking about mobile APIs that are being exposed to developers. A lot of good stuff about categorising & standardising APIs, and some really good insight into what developers and content companies seem to want to get access to.

HOWEVER, as can be surmised by the MEF trying to insert itself in the process, this is very heavily "entertainment-centric", and here we are mostly talking about "legacy content", ie purveyors of monolithic chunks of video, music etc.

My general view, though, is that in the big scheme of things, legacy content really isn't that important. Internet-resident applications and services, communications, enterprise functionality and various other macro-types of interaction are far more wide-reaching than sending chunks of "content" (ugh, horrible term anyway) from "owners" to "consumers".

But it's not obvious to me that these other groups are as effective at communicating their needs as the legacy media & content industry. In particular, enterprise-focused developers (both internal and 3rd-party ISVs) do not appear to be getting their collective acts together to say what *they* want from operator network-side APIs (or handset-side either, for that matter).

In my mind there are some very specific differences. In particular, there will be a requirement for a much more flexible split of control and security management - the presumption that the operator will always be in ultimate control is not valid. There might need to be APIs for "secure location" or "encrypted call" or "set up VPN connection". Reporting tools sufficient for compliance purposes may be required. Certain things like remote-wipe of stolen devices may need to be presented via a web interface to the internal head of security. APIs around charging may need to be modified to take account of corporate deals and tariffs, not just simple individual end-user retail price plans. There might need to be hooks into enterprise IT management platforms, and so on.

As far as I know, though, there is not a single "Mobile Enterprise Forum" working on an equivalent set of API definitions to the "Mobile Entertainment Forum". There should be.

1 comment:

Fazal Majid said...

That's probably because Enterprise developers know better than to trust Service Provider platforms to deliver anything remotely usable and shun them for client OS applications written straight to the iPhone, RIM, WinMo or Symbian APIs. The Service Provider is treated just a dumb pipe, as it ought to be.

The principal network services developers need access to are location and presence. In-handset GSM makes network location services irrelevant, and presence is better done through protocols like XMPP that eschew bloated telco protocols altogether in favor of Internet technology that actually works.