Google's recent moves in the mobile device market are aimed at a community more important than end users. Almost unnoticed in the flurry of Palm Pre, Research in Motion BlackBerry Tour and Apple iPhone introductions, Google announced a new scripting environment allowing developers to create new mobile features directly on devices using Google's Android operating system.
While other smartphone vendors are marketing their hearts out to customers and playing carriers like AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint off against each other, Google is going straight to the heart of the matter, which is the developer community. The future of enterprise applications is playing itself out on the Internet, and while platform vendors like Oracle, Cisco and Microsoft are hoping to translate the strengths of their respective software stacks out onto the Web, Google is working its way into the enterprise from its position of strength on the Web, and is using the rise of mobile devices like smartphones as its primary wedge.
In a posting announcing the Android Scripting Environment (ASE), Google explained that while
Android's [traditional] development environment makes life pretty easy... you're tied to a computer to do your work. ASE lets you develop on the device itself using high-level scripting languages to try out your idea now, in the situation where you need it, quickly.Why is this a big deal? Because making life easy for developers is an important step to expanding a vendor's footprint, as Microsoft understood when it introduced Visual Basic, a tool that made programming so easy that even non-programmers were able to create business applications.
Developers commenting on Google software engineer and programmer evangelist Matt Cutts' posting reveal the danger to the likes of Apple and Nokia: "Trying to code for the iPhone is like trying to learn Chinese from a cow," wrote one developer. Another added of Nokia's operating system: "Symbian is... the hardest of the 3 [operating systems] to program for."
The ASE will also make it easier for phone makers who pick Android for an operating system to create customized applications for their customers, thus increasing the likelihood that they'll pick Android (as opposed to, say, Windows Mobile) as an operating system to begin with.
According to Eric Lundquist, mobility is becoming more than just an adjunct to a company's main technology tool set. He notes that "the next generation of enterprise applications will be designed with mobility in mind from the start."
And this is precisely where Google is focusing now.