It seems amazing to me that three of the leading mobile platforms today are being developed near each other within Silicon Valley. This is an area that is approximately south of Highway 92, north of Highway 17, bounded on the east by the San Francisco Bay and on the west by the foothills-although there’s no real boundary. I have nicknamed this interesting proximity of Apple, Google and Palm the “Mobile Golden Triangle” since the shape of the lines connecting the three companies on a map is triangular. In other words, if you connect the locations of these companies, they look like the three points of a triangle.
Let’s map it out. Apple is working on the iPhone platform (operating system, App Store, iTunes) in Cupertino. Set that as point one. Then, go about 10 miles northwest up Highway 85 to the Bayshore Freeway (Highway 101 at the Rengstorff House). There you’ll find Google working in Mountain View on the Android platform (Android operating system, Market Place and general mobile applications such as Search and Maps). You’ll also find Microsoft working on much of Windows Mobile in their Mountain View campus at Shoreline and Highway 101. Set that as point two.
Next, go southeast about 10 miles to Sunnyvale and you’ll find Palm working on the new Pre platform (Web operating system, Synergy and Apps Store). Set that as point three. And, if you go about 10 miles back southwest from Palm, you’ll end up back in Cupertino at Apple.
Yes, there are two other major mobile development platforms elsewhere: Nokia’s Symbian Foundation (in the Espoo area of Helsinki, Finland) and RIM’s BlackBerry (in Waterloo, Canada). While Symbian and Nokia both have major offices in the San Francisco Bay area in this same general Triangle area, these offices are focused on market development.
All of the major mobile platform communities do very good work, but there’s a special synergistic effect in Silicon Valley due to three of the major mobile development communities being so close to each other. More importantly, this proximity results in a number of other benefits for the mobile industry as a whole, including:
1. Source of engineers
With three major mobile developers within close proximity of each other, the Mobile Golden Triangle provides substantial engineering talent, both from one major company to another but, more importantly, as a network of qualified developers within the area.
2. Professional networking
The Mobile Golden Triangle allows for local members to network at professional conferences, local get-togethers and community interaction. This helps developers gain knowledge and understand the latest trends and new development processes from other developers.
3. Great climate
The Mobile Golden Triangle may not have the best weather in the winter (compared to south Florida), but it’s one of the best climates from April until October, with overcast mornings (caused by the San Francisco Bay’s micro-climate), clear sunny days and almost no rain.
4. Magnetic attraction
Because there’s a lot of hype over Apple’s iPhone, Google’s Android and now Palm’s new Pre, this positive reinforcement acts like magnetic attraction, bringing the best developers from around the world so they, too, can be part of the action.
Close Proximity Benefits Mobile Industry
Close proximity benefits mobile industry
There are a few negatives in the Mobile Golden Triangle, such as lack of public transportation, congestion and the relatively high cost of living. To solve the congestion, the Obama Administration (via stimulus funding) and the State of California (via local-level funding) should consider extending the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) district down the Bayshore Freeway to San Jose, and then do a leg southwest along Saratoga-Sunnyvale Road through Cupertino to Saratoga. This way, the entire Mobile Golden Triangle could benefit from access to BART and from further access to the San Francisco Airport and the City.
While geographic proximity doesn’t matter much for individual applications built on these different mobile platforms, I believe that all the major mobile platforms do benefit from the “centers of excellence” that exist around mobile platform development.
Thus, the Mobile Golden Triangle (Apple, Google, Microsoft and Palm), along with Redmond (Microsoft headquarters community), Helsinki (Nokia and Symbian community) and Waterloo (RIM and the Waterloo University community) all benefit from a large community of developers with lots of experience in developing mobile systems.
If you (or your son or daughter) is interested in being a systems developer in mobile, I’d recommend you migrate toward one of the four major geographic communities that are doing the seminal work in mobile development: Mobile Golden Triangle within Silicon Valley, Redmond, Helsinki or Waterloo.
Of course, in this day and age of the virtual office, it may not require you to actually move your family to one of these areas. Instead, it might mean setting up a home office, working for one of the major platform companies remotely, and visiting the company’s campus every three to six months to interact with your co-developers.
J. Gerry Purdy, Ph.D., is the VP and Chief Analyst with the Frost & Sullivan North American Information & Communication Technologies Practice. As a nationally recognized industry authority, he focuses on monitoring and analyzing emerging trends, technologies and market behavior in the mobile computing and wireless data communications industry in North America. Since joining Frost & Sullivan in 2006, Dr. Purdy has been specializing in mobile and wireless devices, wireless data communications and connection to the infrastructure that powers the data in the wireless handheld. He is author of Inside Mobile & Wireless, which provides industry insights and reaches over 100,000 readers per month.
For more than 16 years, Dr. Purdy has been consulting, speaking, researching, networking, writing and developing state-of-the-art concepts that challenge people’s mind-sets, and developing new ways of thinking and forecasting in the mobile computing and wireless data arenas. Often quoted, his ideas and opinions are followed closely by thought leaders in the mobile & wireless industry. He has a Ph.D. in Computer Science from Stanford University. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
: From time to time, I may have a direct or indirect equity position in a company that is mentioned in this column. If that situation happens, then I’ll disclose it at that time. I have an affiliation with IDG Ventures.