First ProgrammableWeb, Now OpenPlug: What is Alcatel-Lucent Up To?

by Gaurav Kheterpal on September 8, 2010

In the past, Alcatel-Lucent has been known as a conservative shopper. However, the telecom giant has been on aggressive shopping spree since the last few months. In a rather surprising move, ALU picked up ProgrammableWeb, a well-known repository for Web APIs, in June this year.

And now, it has acquired OpenPlug, a veteran mobile software and applications development tools vendor, to “deepen its role in the applications space by delivering, as part of its integrated suite of developer tools, a platform where application developers can write an application once, which will then be translated to run on any of the five major mobile operating systems.”

Is ALU planning to take on the likes of Apple and Google in the mobile platform market? Perhaps Not. Is there an undisclosed motive behind these strategic acquisitions? Let’s do a reality check.

Founded in 2002, OpenPlug is a French company headquartered in Sophia Antipolis and is best known as the creator of ELIPS Studio, a popular utility that lets developers “write mobile application code once and run everywhere”. Developers need to write application code once and ELIPS Studio then translates it into native code that can run on iPhones and Android-based smartphones. The founding principle of ELIPS Studio is very similar to that of Java – you write the source code once and the JVM makes it run on any platform.

Cross Platform Application Development is a challenge for mobile developers. In April, Apple imposed SDK restrictions prohibiting the use of cross-platform compilers. Tools such as ELIPS Studio are handy to bypass such restrictions as they have the capability to convert a developer’s source code into native iOS code. ELIPS Studio also offers support for other mobile platforms including Windows Mobile and Symbian as part of a recently launched beta. The company plans to add support for Samsung’s Bada and Nokia and Intel’s MeeGo, Qualcomm’s Brew, Research In Motion’s operating system and HTML5 in order to transform ELIPS Studio into an “ubiqutious” mobile development platform.

ALU says it will extend OpenPlug’s functionality to service providers, enterprises and developers, to reduce time to market for new programs and services. IMO, this offers a fantastic opportunity for Alcatel-Lucent as it bridges the gap between developers and proprietary mobile platforms.

Having picked up ProgrammableWeb earlier and now OpenPlug, ALU is clearly betting big on the mobile application development industry. I won’t be surprised if it actually plans to offer Web APIs for ELIPS to align both these acquisitions with its cloud-centric strategy. Alcatel-Lucent also plans to integrate the OpenPlug toolset into its Developer Platform and Open API Service, thus broadening the functionality available to service providers, enterprises and developers for the exposure of network assets and the rapid introduction of new services across mobile and Web domains.

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Written by: Gaurav Kheterpal. www.digitcom.ca >. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com > by: RSS>, Twitter >, Identi.ca >, or Friendfeed >

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