Mobile computing wars pose tough choices for internet publishers
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For Microsoft, and Amazon.com, and the clutch of other companies that hope to carve out a big slice of a mobile computing business currently dominated by Apple, the future depends on people like Scott Porad.
As chief technology officer of Cheezburger Network, a popular publisher of humor websites, Porad has to make the tough calls on which mobile devices merit the development of special software, or apps, that will make the company's content shine.
Developing apps for the hot-selling iPhone might be a no-brainer, but that's not the case when it comes to apps for Microsoft's new Windows 8 software, or for the various versions of Google's Android mobile operating system, or for Research in Motion's BlackBerry devices.
"We are a small company and we don't have unlimited resources," said Porad "We cannot afford to do it all, that's for sure."
Cheezburger, an independent publisher with 85 employees and about 16 million unique visitors a month worldwide, ultimately decided to go ahead with a Windows 8 app while passing on BlackBerry and some other platforms. But many other developers are taking a wait-and-see approach.
The caution extends not only to Windows, but also increasingly to Android as that software evolves in different ways on different vendors' platforms. A Kindle Fire app is quite different from one built for, say, the Samsung Galaxy, even though both devices are based on Google's Android.
Indeed, the explosion of competition in the tablet and smartphone markets may be providing consumers with plenty of choice, but it's a decidedly mixed blessing for internet content companies. They now have to develop as many as six different apps if they want to reach all their mobile customers, with each development project costing tens of thousands of dollars at a minimum, and far more to update the apps over their lifetime.
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