Alcatel-Lucent has acquired OpenPlug, a developer of mobile software and applications development tools, as part of its strategy to become the application development enabler of choice among its primary customer base – service providers. The network infrastructure giant says that “through this acquisition, Alcatel-Lucent deepens its role in the applications space by delivering, as part of its integrated suite of developer tools, a platform where application developers can write an application once, which will then be translated to run on any of the five major mobile operating systems.”
According to Alcatel-Lucent, it can now “extend OpenPlug’s functionality to service providers, enterprises and developers so they can create and deploy applications across multiple devices and within service provider app stores.” It also said that applications which have previously been confined to high-end devices such as smartphones can be delivered to any mobile device, which “opens up opportunities in emerging markets, where low-cost mobile phone circulation is the highest.”
It has recently been noted that service providers see applications as a tool to counter falling revenue from core services such as voice telephony, looking to third-party developers to foster innovation as well as working to create their own products and services. By providing tools that can enable the easy creation of applications that can run across a wide range of devices and networks, Alcatel-Lucent is likely to appeal to both groups in their attempts to bring new products to market.
The deal is Alcatel-Lucent’s second acquisition intended to bolster its “application enablement” portfolio in recent months, following the June 2010 purchase of ProgrammableWeb, which it described as “the technology industry’s go-to source of API-related content.” Significantly, it noted that the current acquisition “isn’t purely a mobile play”; the acquired tools can be extended to support development for IPTV set-top boxes, games consoles and “even then ng Connect LTE Connected Car”, creating the potential for developers to write applications which can then be deployed across fixed and mobile devices, in order to address the largest possible market.
OpenPlug’s main product is ELIPS Studio, a cross-platform mobile application development kit based on Adobe’s Flex Builder technology. It enables apps to be developed once using common programming languages, and then compiled and packaged for platforms including Android, iOS, Windows Mobile and Symbian OS – the only tier-one platform currently omitted is BlackBerry OS. OpenPlug’s website currently promises future support for bada, MeeGo, Windows Phone 7, “and more” – reports suggest that targets include BlackBerry, Qualcomm’s Brew Mobile Platform, and HTML5.
In a blog posting, Eric Baissus, CEO of OpenPlug, said that “having the support of such an important, worldwide and well-known organisation will allow us to continue improving our product, introducing new advanced features for both independent developers and corporations at a fast pace and enlarge the growing community of ELIPS Studio users.” According to IDG News, ELIPS Studio will continue to be available separately, and Alcatel-Lucent has said that it will be incorporated with its existing Developer Platform and Open API Service, “broadening the functionality available to service providers, enterprises and developers for the exposure of network assets and the rapid introduction of new services across mobile and Web domains.”
OpenPlug was founded in 2002 under the leadership of Baissus, who was previously with silicon vendor Texas Instruments. ELIPS Studio was released in its commercial form during August 2010, following a ten-month beta programme. Financial terms of the Alcatel-Lucent deal were not revealed.