Appcelerator bypasses mobile-app-middlemen for ad agencies

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app_small.jpgADOTAS – So you’re finally ready to make that plunge into the mobile market — but not just a mobile website. Nah, you’re going to head to app city, where the big kids play. Now do you go with an iPhone app? My goodness, it’ll take six months to develop? And then it won’t translate to Google’s Android platform? Suddenly you become short of breath and visions of Steve Jobs chortling circle round your head — you feel faint….

But this doesn’t have to happen to your interactive ad agency — not if you’ve signed up with Appcelerator’s partner program to use its integration platform for iPhone and Android applications. Cimex, Computer Sciences Corp., Intridea, Razorfish, Tribal DDB and TMA are all on board, the company announced today, while several more are getting in line.

This announcement comes on the heels of the June launch of Appcelerator’s Titanium Mobile, an extension of its Titanium Desktop for building PC-, Mac- and Linux-based applications. Titanium Mobile offers a group of more than 300 APIs to unlock the most neat-o features of mobile devices — in JavaScript, which makes many a programmer wipe the sweat for his or her brow in relief. A reported 12,000 developers have taken advantage of the platform to build apps now being downloaded in the Apple and Android stores.

The iPhone operating system is based in Objective-C, complicated code that Appcelerator Senior Vice President of Marketing Scott Schwarzhoff said “hits a web developer sideways — it takes a huge amount of code to do anything basic.”

As a result, most agencies are forced to outsource app development to small enclave of subcontractors, which drives up the price. Beside adding to the bottom line, possibly the biggest hangup with iPhone apps is the long time frame it to build them, which makes it quite difficult to coordinate with campaigns. Forrester Research estimated an average time frame of six months and a price tag between $20,000 and $300,000.

However, companies need to get their feet wet in the mobile market — eMarketer predicts 40% of Internet use in 2013 will be mobile, but agencies and companies entering the mobile arena should be more interested in native apps opposed to mobile websites or web-based apps for analytics. Cookies from web-based apps aren’t saved on a smartphone; native apps, however, will tell an agency how an app is being used as well as how much.

This is another feature of Appcelerator’s platform: “It’s as easy to analyze a mobile app as a website,” Schwarzhoff said.

In effect, by offering its Titanium service directly to ad agencies, Appcelerator is cutting out the middlemen in mobile apps — the app-building subcontractors. With these partnerships, agencies can use their internal coders to build an app similar to how a wbesite is constructed. Through a program similar to a translator, the platform turns the java code into an iPhone app. Want the same thing for Android? Fill out some queues with different information and with a click or two, wallah. Schwarzhoff noted that 80% to 90% of the code is reusable between the two operating systems.

Oh, and that hobbling time frame? For a recent campaign with Archrival, Appcelerator was able to assemble an app in approximately 50 hours over two weeks. Analytics determined that the average user played with the app for four minutes, which is four times as long as a user is excited by a web app.

Currently Appcelerator is working on platforms for the Palm Pre and BlackBerry software, but the Android isTwelve smartphones loaded with Android are hitting the market for the holiday season; Motorola in particular is betting the farm on Android. Gartner predicts that Android smartphones will outnumber Blackberry and iPhone in 2012.

Of course, after that there’s netbooks and more advanced mobile devices — this frontier remains largely unmapped.

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