Microsoft Buying Xamarin to Build Mobile App Dev Powerhouse

Microsoft has agreed to buy mobile app dev toolmaker Xamarin in a deal that brings a rich C#-based mobile development environment home.

Microsoft logo

In what some consider a long-awaited move, Microsoft today announced it has signed an agreement to acquire mobile app dev toolmaker Xamarin.

Xamarin provides a popular platform that enables developers to build mobile applications using C# and deliver native mobile app experiences on iOS, Android and Windows devices. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Microsoft has had a long relationship with Xamarin—integrating with the Xamarin tools, including Xamarin co-founder and CTO Miguel de Icaza in open-source strategy committees and even openly wooing de Icaza to join the software giant even before the founding of Xamarin more than four years ago. The companies jointly built Xamarin integration into Visual Studio, Microsoft Azure, Office 365 and the Microsoft Enterprise Mobility Suite.

"Xamarin's approach enables developers to take advantage of the productivity and power of .NET to build mobile apps, and to use C# to write to the full set of native APIs and mobile capabilities provided by each device platform," said Scott Guthrie, executive vice president of the Cloud and Enterprise Group at Microsoft, in a blog post. "This enables developers to easily share common app code across their iOS, Android and Windows apps while still delivering fully native experiences for each of the platforms. Xamarin's unique solution has fueled amazing growth for more than four years."

Forrester Vice President and Principal Analyst Jeffrey Hammond said the move to acquire Xamarin amplifies Microsoft's already comprehensive mobile development strategy.

"Bottom line: It's about time," Hammond told eWEEK. "This move makes Microsoft a must-consider option throughout the stack when it comes to mobile development. We see strong client interest in Xamarin's approach, as enterprise mobile devs want native performance and look-and feel, but they hate maintaining two separate code bases for Android and iOS."

"Xamarin's biggest sales objection is now removed," added Michael Facemire, Hammond's colleague and principal analyst at Forrester. "In our (frequent) conversations with clients about Xamarin, a recurring question pops up about whether they should trust this highly strategic technology decision to a small vendor. In the past six months, we've seen mainstream buyers become less concerned about this objection, as Xamarin has stood up enterprise mobile app case studies—but today's acquisition removes that concern entirely."

Xamarin has more than 15,000 customers in 120 countries, including more than 100 Fortune 500 companies—and more than 1.3 million unique developers have taken advantage of its offering, Guthrie said.

"Top enterprises such as Alaska Airlines, Coca-Cola Bottling, Thermo Fisher, Honeywell and JetBlue use Xamarin, as do gaming companies like SuperGiant Games and Gummy Drop," he noted. "Through Xamarin Test Cloud, all types of mobile developers—C#, Objective-C, Java and hybrid app builders—can also test and improve the quality of apps using thousands of cloud-hosted phones and devices."