Motorola revealed that it purchased 280 North--a mobile app development company. Adding 280 North gives Motorola Web app development talent to help strengthen its Android-based products--particularly devices like the Droid smartphones or Motorola's rumored tablet.
Terms of the purchase have not been disclosed, but rumors suggest that the acquisition cost Motorola about $20 million. 280 North was a Y Combinator startup, and two of the three founders were former Apple developers. Francisco Tolmasky helped develop the Mobile Safari and Maps apps for the iPhone, and Ross Boucher was an iTunes Store developer.
280 North is most widely known for developing Cappuccino--a programming framework used to develop Web apps with little actual programming knowledge. Now, 280 North brings that collective experience of having worked with the Apple and iPhone culture, and the skills behind Cappuccino to Motorola and the Android-centric culture of its mobile products.
A Motorola spokesperson informed Techcrunch "I can confirm that Motorola acquired 280 North earlier this summer. The transaction provides Motorola with specialized Web-app engineering talent and technology that will help facilitate the continued expansion of Motorola's application ecosystem. We believe 280 North will be instrumental in helping us continue to foster the Android ecosystem with innovative Web-based technologies and applications."
Motorola has embraced the Android platform and produces the leading Android smartphone--the Droid. Motorola has a diverse portfolio of Android-based smartphones including the Droid X, Droid 2, Cliq, and Backflip.
The 280 North team can help Motorola create a more innovative user interface and unique custom apps that set its Android smartphones apart from competing devices like the EVO 4G by HTC, or the Samsung Galaxy S series. The acquisition of 280 North may be even more instrumental for Motorola's tablet aspirations, though.
Android smartphones, and the Google Android Marketplace already have an established presence. The success of the Android OS in the smartphone arena has led developers to embrace the platform, and pushed the number of available apps to somewhere around 100,000. However, Android-based tablets are a whole new breed.
If Android tablets run Android apps anything like the iPad runs iPhone apps, the apps will run, but in a miniature, smartphone-sized square in the middle of the display. In order to ensure a successful tablet launch, it is in Motorola's best interests to develop apps that are uniquely suited to an Android tablet and provide valuable utilities right out of the box.
Putting the Cappuccino concept to use, Motorola can also provide the tools necessary for third-party developers to jump on the Android tablet app bandwagon and make sure that a thriving inventory of apps are available for users. The more apps there are that take advantage of the unique qualities of the tablet, the more likely the Android tablet will be successful.