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Mobile Applications Development on Apple and Google Platforms Birgitta Bergvall-Kreborn Social Informatics Lule University of Technology...

Apple, Amazon.com, and Sony have all brought e-readers to market in recent years. What resources have each company drawn upon in producing and marketing these products? How do their approaches differ and how are they similar?
Volume 29 Article 30 Mobile Applications Development on Apple and Google Platforms Birgitta Bergvall-Kåreborn Social Informatics Luleå University of Technology [email protected] Debra Howcroft Manchester Business School The University of Manchester and Social Informatics Luleå University of Technology The uptake of Internet-enabled multifunctional mobile devices is an emerging area within software development. This article examines the under-researched area of mobile application developers and considers some of the current challenges facing this sector within the IT workforce. We frame our study within the wider context of the evolution of the industry in order to illustrate how the emerging business model of mobile application development shapes the everyday practices of systems developers, specifically those working on iPhone and Android platforms. Drawing on qualitative research carried out in Sweden, the UK, and the U.S., we analyze developers’ experiences in order to illustrate how they respond and adapt to the turbulent environment of the IT sector. Keywords: mobile applications development, Apple, Google, Android, iPhone, developers Volume 29, Article 30, pp. 565-580, December 2011
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Mobile Applications Development on Apple and Google Platforms 566 Volume 29 Article 30 I. INTRODUCTION Since the mid-1980s the global telecommunications industry has become one of the core industries of the world economy, and within this the mobile phone industry has become the most important sector [Hess and Coe, 2006]. When the first mobile phone was launched in the late 1970s, it seemed unlikely it would ever reach a mass market audience. Although it could be argued that today the mobile phone is a familiar technology, it remains a moving target as it continues to evolve and change [Gebauer et al., 2010; Woolgar, 2003]. As with any emerging technology, it is difficult to predict how the device will be adopted and used, hence the widespread speculation about its effects and implications. Few could foresee that a technology designated for voice communication would be adapted to such an extent for text messaging; likewise, the potential of mobiles as Internet-enabled multifunctional devices to potentially threaten the dominance of laptops and desktops is yet to be unravelled. Within the mobile sector there are numerous stakeholders with differing perspectives [Sawyer et al., 2003]. The aim of this article is to explore some of the current challenges facing the IT workforce by examining the practices of mobile application developers. To focus only on the organizational level, without paying due consideration to wider structural forces, merely “black boxes” the wider influences that shape systems development; there is also a pressing need to incorporate broader socio-economic developments [Pollock and Williams, 2009]. Therefore, in this article we examine two large IT firms—Apple and Google—in order to situate developers within this wider context and the emerging business model of mobile application development and distribution (MADD). This is important to developing an understanding of how these broader dynamics shape the environment within which software developers exist. We draw on qualitative data to highlight the practices of developers that are adopted in response to the strategies of these large technology firms; this sheds light on the mechanisms that developers employ in their continuous adaption to an environment that is subject to perpetual change. We focus the research by concentrating on the Apple and Google platforms, given their prominence within the IT sector and because of their increasing position as market leaders for mobile platforms. The following section will discuss these high-tech firms by offering an overview of the evolution of the iPhone and Android platforms. Next, the article describes the qualitative research approach that was adopted for the fieldwork that was carried out among sixty iPhone and Android developers. The analysis follows, which illustrates MADD in terms of the categories of who, what, when, where, why, and how. Finally, conclusions are drawn which point to the precariousness of creative work in the IT industry, a turbulent environment that is susceptible to permanent restructuring and change. Technology Firms and Markets: Apple and Google In this section we outline the broader context that frames MADD. Understanding IT work requires an appreciation of how wider socioeconomic trends and developments in product and technology markets frame working practices. We provide a brief history of Apple and Google in order to position them within the mobile applications market, particularly regarding their respective platforms of iPhone and Android. Apple was established in 1976 and has had a chequered business history. Much of its recent success and enhanced market share can be attributed to the emergence of innovations like the iPod, iPhone, and iPad. When the iPod was launched in 2001 it was soon to become the “de facto dominant design” [Dedrick et al., 2009] in a chaotic digital media player market. By contrast, when Apple launched the iPhone in 2007, the state of the mobile phone industry was one of maturity and sophistication and was dominated by five companies that covered around 75 percent of the world market for handsets (Nokia, Motorola, Samsung, Siemens, and Sony Ericsson) [Hess and Coe, 2006]. Apple benefited from competitive price wars within the industry, which has seen reduced margins for voice transmission and far higher profit levels with data transmission [Vogelstein, 2008]. Their entry into the mobile phone market with a product equipped for regular Internet access enabled Apple to become dominant within a relatively short period of time, while competitors (like Nokia) reported their worst ever financial results [Wray, 2010]. Apple is renowned in the IT industry for extreme secrecy surrounding new product launches and the speculation that this fosters adds to the anticipation. Steve Jobs’s (former CEO) annual Apple keynote address became a media event for the marketing of new products until 2011 when he retired a few months before his death. When the iPhone was unveiled it was perceived as representing something distinct in the more established market of mobile phones [Ling and Sundsoy, 2009]. The product launch was backed by a successful marketing campaign, with staged launches outside their retail stores, often consisting of long queues of young, hip-looking film extras that were paid
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Apple has extensively used its I phone and IPod application to enable e readers to read their books and applications specially uploaded to the mobile applications. The e reader who has an
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