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Summary:

The rise of smartphones is having an impact across the entire technology food chain from chip makers to handset manufacturers. San Francisco-based Heroku, which has been focused on being a Ruby-on-Rails cloud platform, has seen a sudden demand for its service from mobile app developers

Heroku CEO Byron Sebastian (foreground) speaking at GigaOM's Structure 2010 conference in San Francisco

The rise of smartphones is having an impact across the entire technology food chain. Not only are companies like Motorola moving more phones, app developers are seeing a quick jump in their fortunes. But far from the bright lights and attention are companies that provide vital building blocks, who are also enjoying the good times. These include chip companies like Qualcomm and cloud services provider Heroku, which offers its platform as a service and is based on Amazon’s raw infrastructure.

San Francisco-based Heroku, which has been focused on being a Ruby-on-Rails cloud platform, has seen a sudden demand for its service from mobile app developers, according to Byron Sebastian, chief executive officer of the two-year-old company, which is backed by the likes of Redpoint Venture Partners and Ignition Partners. The biggest boost for Heroku is going to come when RhoMobile, an open mobile framework company, shifts RhoHub, its hosted app development platform, to Heroku. That move alone will add 8,000 mobile developers to Heroku’s cloud service.

According to Heroku, in a survey, nearly 30 percent of its customers said they are building mobile apps, and nearly 60 percent indicated a high interest in developing mobile offerings. Heroku currently has over 83,000 apps (mobile and web) using its platform. Some of the more popular apps are doing 1,000 to 3,000 http requests per minute. Many are offering mobile-friendly HTML, but many are also using RESTful interfaces.

Mobile apps using Heroku’s infrastructure services include Spreadsong’s Freebooksapp and Intridea’s Oil Reporter. Colin Plamondon, co-founder and CEO of Spreadsong, points out that most mobile applications are essentially a pretty interface for web services content and have similar needs to any web application. That’s good news for companies like Heroku.

P.S. If you are a cloud services provider and want to discuss trends with me, drop me an email.

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  1. Why would a company like this with so much powerful software wait for developers to create the next big thing when they should be building it themselves? Compare to having an oil reserve and calling out pumper developers to tap your reserve when you have access to a pump of your own just an arms reach away.

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    1. Heroku’s platform itself is pretty amazing. Any developer that I have demonstrated Heroku for has walked away with their mouth dropped and saying “OMG, seriously? It’s that easy?”

      There’s innovation in the platform space (look at what RackSpace is doing with their OpenStack. Heroku is just doing their innovation and powerful software on a platform level rather than the application level.

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      1. You make great points and I am not surprised that many people are focusing on platform innovation. I think companies like Heroku become more valuable as we start to push more and more stuff to the Internet.

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  2. The most profitable business is not building mobile apps, it is building software infrastructure than mobile apps developer would need. Most of the apps are not profitable, but most of the infrastructure suppliers are.

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    1. +1 to that. It is almost always the case during any boom. Recognizing the right infrastructure providers is the key.

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    2. Very true,and also Mobile ad networks like Admob and App stores

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  3. [...] : a Platform as a service company running on Amazon’s infrastructure is riding high on Mobile app boom, with over 83,000 apps running on it’s service with increasingly more of [...]

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  4. [...] Mobile App Boom Is Lifting Heroku’s Fortunes (cloud.gigaom.com) [...]

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