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Platforms to Develop Mobile Applications For in 2010

If there’s anything more exciting than the flood of mobile applications being churned out, it is the race among platforms to develop mobile applications for in 2010. Old mobile players like Nokia are jostling with Apple and Google, with the BlackBerry app in between the old and the new.

For starters, here’s a list of the main platforms being used for mobile application development. There’s the Apple iPhone, Google Android, RIM BlackBerry, Nokia Symbian, Windows Mobile, Sun J2ME and Qualcomm BREW. As of 2010, the future is clearly somewhere in the iPhone, Android and the Blackberry.

BlackBerry application development has a clear head start over Apple and Google – 55% market share in North America, 20 million subscribers on App World and app downloads approaching a million per day. So the RIM platform offers a better view of how a mobile application will look over the next year, or in the next 5 years.

Let’s take a look at what it takes to put together a blackberry app. For those new to wireless apps, it’s best to start by reading up on how data moves on wireless networks. If the concept is clear, the next choice is the development environment – either web development or Java Application development.

Java is more code-centric, while web development is recommended for those more comfortable with Microsoft’s Visual Studio. RIM’s developer section offers comprehensive support, documentation and downloads for both Java and web development. There are also simulators and developer labs to provide a first-hand experience.

Developers will need to download tools including either the BlackBerry Java Plug-in for Eclipse v1.1 or the BlackBerry Widget SDK v1.0. Java development is currently done on Java 5.0. For web development, BlackBerry widgets are built using BlackBerry Device Software v5.0.

Another helpful download is the BlackBerry Theme Studio, used to create custom smart phone themes, mobile websites and animated content for BlackBerry phones. The themes and graphics can be tested on all devices and operating systems using the simulators. Developers can also submit themes on the App World vendor portal.

Minimum requirements before downloading the BlackBerry web plug-in for Eclipse or Visual Studio include a system that has as the OS Windows XP, Windows Vista or Windows 7. Developers will need to have either Eclipse or Microsoft Visual Studio installed before the BlackBerry web plug-in can be installed.

The most difficult part for new developers is knowing where to start and whether or not they’re doing the right thing. It’s hard to start over later on when something goes wrong. BlackBerry has made this easier with step-by-step instructions for both web and Java development. There’s also a video library and community programs that help developers find and connect with a local developer group.

That’s not to say that iPhone app development for Apple or for Google’s Android is difficult or that they offer less help. It’s just that RIM’s system has been around longer. The tools available have been fine-tuned to make it easy for new developers to get started without having to jump through any hoops.

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