John Andrews is the president and CEO of Evans Data, a market research firm that focuses on developer issues. Andrews sat down with eWEEK Senior Editor Darryl K. Taft at the Evans Data Developer Relations Conference April 8 in Redwood City, Calif., to discuss trends in the developer world.
What are some of the trends that you see right now in the developer ranks?
I think one of them is the developer programs in the past have been really content-driven, and most of the vendors have been pushing content out to the developers and developing content internally. Whereas now, as we think about Web 2.0 technologies as well as the whole more collaborative environment, most companies are trying to develop a community that really is much more interactive. And in some cases, they've developed community properties that are really controlled by the developers or the users. IBM has examples of that on its site, but also you can see evidence of this in many other companies and how they're performing. I think that's one key trend.
I think the whole notion of continuing to provide free software and/or APIs to the developer community is really growing as well. And, again, trying to make the developer more productive is key in this much more open and open standards world. And we're seeing one of the last areas of the market start to think that way, too, which a year ago you might not have thought possible ... and that's talking to people like Sprint or AT&T. They're really thinking through now how to change that walled garden perspective and really go open and open access and create a much more open standards world and give developers more paths to get their applications to market.
Can you elaborate on that last point about the carriers?
The carriers have always been very controlling of developers. Verizon's probably been the most controlling. Recently they said they were going to open up their network and allow far more applications to be accessible using their network. So they've said that, but if you look underneath the covers, there are a lot of stipulations. But then you got AT&T and Sprint here that are indeed talking about the same things. And I think in the mobility space, one of the complaints the handset guys have always had is the carriers control the freeway and access. And the carriers are now starting to learn they can't do that anymore if they want to have a vibrant community. And given the fact that much more of their business is going to be data driven and the only way they're going to get that data-driven business is through applications, and the only way they're going to get those applications is through more numbers of developers developing, they've had to open up their world.
But will it be a situation like Apple and the constraints it's put on developers with the iPhone SDK [software development kit]?
It's a possibility. And, again, Verizon would be a case in point where there are constraints. But I think, from discussions with a couple of the other carriers, they're looking at becoming as open as they need to be.