Wireless Developer Activity on the Rise: Survey

By Gretchen Hyman

April 23, 2003

Among many findings, Evans Data says key growth areas for wireless developers lie in network security mechanisms and wireless Web-services development.

Where is wireless development heading? New research submitted Wednesday from Evans Data suggests it all boils down to better network security over Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.

In its survey titled 'Wireless Development Survey, Volume I, 2003,' the Santa Cruz, Calif.-based research firm says as the wireless sector continues to gain market momentum, security issues for these networks are of paramount concern for many developers.

The survey indicates that the greatest increase for developers working on Bluetooth applications was Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) and for 802.11, User authentication/Passwords.

But according to Chris Preimesberger, a wireless analyst from Evans Data, there are no clear leaders yet.

"SSL [secure sockets layer] seems to be establishing itself as the front runner for now," said Chris Preimesberger. "This is because, after 8 years of development, PKI architecture has established a reputation as a trusted and reliable method of authentication."

The purpose of the survey was to measure the six-month growth of network security mechanisms of choice for Bluetooth , a personal wireless system, and 802.11 or Wi-Fi public access, the two wireless LANs that continue to gain developer support at significant rates.

Both systems expanded their developer user base by 36 percent during the survey period.

Evans Data conducts surveys twice yearly and culled its data from an estimated 475 worldwide developers involved in the wireless development industry.

The survey also found that Bluetooth network security mechanisms are currently evenly divided among three leading security alternatives.

PKI accounted for 19 percent of market share; SSL came in at 17 percent; and Wireless Application Protocol 2.0 (WAP) was a close runner-up at 16 percent of developer market share.

Whereas network security mechanisms of choice for 802.11 are currently SSL at 21 percent, with PKI and User authentication/Passwords neck and neck at 16 percent and 15 percent respectively.

Evans Data survey also explored issues related to the deployment of wireless Web services and wireless platform preferences among developers.

According to the survey, wireless Web services-enabled applications are expected to see a significant increase in developer focus over the next 12 months.

More than 50 percent of the developers involved in the survey indicated a strong interest in deploying such applications. Whereas 65 percent are expected to develop wireless Web-services applications for mobile phones over the coming year.

The survey defines Web services as "network-based, distributed, modular components or applications that perform specific tasks and conform to a specific set of technical specifications."

According to Evans, an increasing number of cellular phones such as those built by Nokia, Motorola, Sony, Qualcomm, Samsung, and Ericsson are coming equipped with Web-enabled programs like text messaging and e-mail, and GPS services.

The survey indicates that 95 percent of respondents say they will be working on some form of these applications over the next two years.

"The most exciting and revolutionary event in the programming space in the last few years has got to be the advent of Web services," said Preimesberger. "They are published, discovered, and then can interoperate with other compatible components across the network. This is a new architecture that is sweeping development everywhere, including the wireless development segment.

Among the survey's respondents, Nokia was the leading wireless device platform of choice at 60 percent favorability. Runners-up included HP/Compaq at 54 percent, Palm at 48 percent, and Motorola at 45 percent.

"Nokia has been putting out a strong push to recruit developers and it's working," said an Evans Data spokesperson. "It will be interesting to see how these numbers are affected in the next six months."

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