Antenna Service Supports Full Lifecycle of Mobile App

Antenna Software on Tuesday plans to launch a hosted service that will let businesses design, build, publish, manage and analyze mobile apps that are geared toward employees or customers.

AMPchroma, the new suite of services, is based on the Antenna Mobility Platform, which Antenna has been using to develop, manage and host apps for customers. It is now opening up the platform so that customers can access it to build and manage their own apps.

An IT administrator at a business using AMPchroma can set permissions so that individual workers can log into the service and only access certain functions. For example, a product developer, who might have scant software development skills, can be given access to a drag-and-drop service for designing the functionality of an app. A marketer might have access only to the analytics.

The product developer can choose from design theme templates created by Antenna or create a new template. The user can then drag and drop images, RSS buttons, advertisements and text boxes onto each page of the app. The user can preview the app as it would look on the screen of a specified phone.

Antenna maintains a database of phone models available around the world that grows by around 200 devices a month and currently includes 10,000 devices, said Jim Somers, chief marketing and strategy officer for Antenna. On the back end, AMPchroma optimizes the app to fit the device.

AMPchroma isn't designed only for non-technical users, however. A developer can also use an Eclipse workbench to do deeper development. Users can build native, Web and HTML5 apps and mobile websites.

AMPchroma lets users build private application stores so that a developer can push out an app to an internal store only accessible to the marketing team, for instance, which may need to review and approve a new app before publishing it more broadly.

AMPchroma also lets users build public branded app stores and stores that all employees could access for corporate applications.

When a customer is ready to publish the app to all users, Antenna is keen to host the app for them. With three data centers around the world, Antenna maintains that it can offer a high-quality and reliable service that is geared toward hosting the mobile apps its customers build.

AMPchroma also collects data about how many people are using the apps and how, so that a marketing person, for example, can examine usage information and suggest changes to the app.

With AMPchroma, Antenna hopes to help businesses consolidate the number of vendors and products they are using to develop their mobile apps, Somers said.

"We've found that most companies are managing four mobile projects on average and three to four vendors, depending on the size of the company. They're having a hard time keeping up," he said.

While Antenna hopes that customers will exclusively use all of the tools in AMPchroma, it also tries to make it easy for customers to continue using other tools if they want. For instance, if developers are using something like Jquery to build an app, the developer can continue to do so and publish and track the app through AMPchroma, he said.

Antenna is among just a few vendors offering a service that aims to take care of the full range of functions related to mobile app development and publishing. But it joins a host of companies like Rhomobile and Appcelerator that aim to make it easier to develop once for multiple phone platforms, and others like Appmobi that offer developer tools as well as analytics.

Nancy Gohring covers mobile phones and cloud computing for The IDG News Service. Follow Nancy on Twitter at @idgnancy. Nancy's e-mail address is Nancy_Gohring@idg.com

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