Alcatel-Lucent Buys Mobile Apps Dev-tool Vendor OpenPlug

Alcatel-Lucent has acquired OpenPlug, the creator of ELIPS Studio, a tool that allows developers write an application once, and then translate it into native code that can run on iPhones and Android-based smartphones.

The acquisition of OpenPlug is Alcatel-Lucent's latest push into the mobile application space. Alcatel-Lucent, like so many others in the post-App Store world, has realized the importance of applications and developers, and hopes to become the middle-man between service providers and developers.

One of the biggest challenges in the application space, for developers and operators, is the fragmentation among mobile operating systems. However, OpenPlug's ELIPS Studio will help address that issue, according to Laura Merling, Alcatel-Lucent's vice-president of global developer platform and programs.

In April, Apple changed the licensing language for its iPhone SDK (software development kit) in such a way that developers may not submit programs to Apple that use cross-platform compilers. But that won't cause problem for users of ELIPS Studio, according to Alcatel-Lucent.

ELIPS Studio uses Adobe Flex as the development environment -- specifically its scripting language ActionScript, according to a spokesman. However, the tool compiles the source code to the native platform, which means that it does not include any custom SDKs, but does allow the developer to take advantage of features on the phone, he said.

ELIPS Studio recently exited the beta testing stage, and it works with Apple's iPhone and Android-based smartphones. The platform can also translate code so an application can run on Windows Mobile, Symbian and Apple's iPad, but that is still in beta testing, according to OpenPlug's developer web site.

Also, the number of platforms developers can translate code to run on will increase. Other mobile platforms -- including Samsung's Bada and Nokia and Intel's MeeGo, Qualcomm's Brew, Research In Motion's operating system and HTML5 , are all under investigation, according to Merling.

Alcatel-Lucent and OpenPlug are also talking to Microsoft about what can be done for Windows Phone 7, according to Merling. Microsoft is very anxious to make as many applications as possible compatible with its upcoming smartphone operating system, she said.

Merling said Alcatel-Lucent is also looking beyond smartphones as interest in increasing the number of applications that can run on IPTV platforms is growing.

ELIPS Studio will continue to be sold separately, but Alcatel-Lucent will also integrate it with its own offerings and allow operators to buy licenses and then either give them away to developers or resell them, according to Merling.

Alcatel-Lucent didn't disclose the financial details of the acquisition.

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