The iPhone was thrown around a bit (and more specifically, the distribution format of the App Store), but the overall topic was a bit more broad.
Representatives from Microsoft, Adobe, RIM, and others were on the panel to talk about the future and economics of development for mobile platforms. Will the web prevail as the development platform over native apps? Is a centralized market the way to go for application distribution or is distributed the way to go? Should apps be bundled or solely user installed? Should platforms be open sourced or proprietary? These are some of the questions presented to the panel.
Of all the questions, the one with the most interesting discussion was the topic of web applications prevailing over native applications. Adobe’s Gary Kovacs felt strongly that the web browser would ultimately be the winner. The browser has some way to go before it gets to that point but the logic behind the web being the platform is that it significantly lowers the barrier to entry and distributability of applications. If a developer can spend their time and resources developing for a single platform but still get distribution across all devices, that would obviously be ideal.
John O’Rourke, from Microsoft, talked about Adobe’s Flash becoming a platform in itself. It’s technology that is already here and capable of producing a rich experience. The benefit of using Flash for this is that it is already an established technology with a huge developer base.
It’s hard to imagine the web as a legitimate platform that creates a seamless experience across all mobile devices, but I think we’ll see browser functionality and capabilities expand significantly in the coming years as browsers like Chrome start to rethink how we use the browser and how the browser interacts with the OS.
Where do you see mobile development going in the coming years?
[UPDATE: Here is the video of this particular panel.]