Everypoint Introduces Slick Mobile Apps for the Non-iPhone Crowd

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charging a purchase price or embedding advertising inside ther apps. Everypoint’s business plan is to collect a 10 percent commission on application sales—a modest amount, compared to the 30 percent commission that Apple collects on purchases at the iTunes App Store.

To some extent, Everypoint is making a “Field of Dreams” bet, hoping that if it builds a system that simplifies the creation and distribution of pretty Java-based apps, developers will come back to the feature phone market. But no one can build a working mobile-software ecosystem overnight—just look at examples like Boston-based uLocate, which has spent nearly three years recruiting developers to build applications for its Where location-based-services platform, and Google itself, which helped bring the first Android phone (the G1) to market in October after more than two years of development, but still hasn’t introduced a way for developers to charge for their Android apps.

MacKinnon says Everypoint will likely “seed the market” by partnering with developers and media companies to put out the first group of finished Nemo applications itself. “We’re going to have to develop a few applications ourselves that really get people excited about downloading the runtime,” he says. “Once the runtime is on their phone, we’ll have a much stronger relationship,” because of the app catalog that’s automatically included.

The Nemo Chooser ScreenMacKinnon thinks the first batch of Nemo applications will include casual games, social applications (such as mobile MySpace or Facebook interfaces), and the same kinds of real-time sports, news, financial, and weather information applications that have proven popular on smartphones and even on many feature phones. The company is working on a tool that will help developers convert existing iPhone apps into Nemo apps, which should also help seed the catalog.

But in the end, MacKinnon believes Nemo’s economics are what will pull developers back into the feature phone world. In the existing feature phone market, where a single application must often be rewritten dozens of times to work on different phones sold by different carriers, a typical mobile game takes a team of six Java programmers six months to develop, at an average cost of $130,000, according to MacKinnon. The early estimates are that developing an iPhone app costs far less—on the order of $30,000. “Our goal is to drive that even lower with Nemo,” says MacKinnon.

If developers can truly write applications once with Nemo and then trust that they’ll run on any Java feature phone with the Nemo runtime installed—without having to get the approval of the traditional gatekeepers of the mobile software world (the carriers), and with a guarantee that they can keep 90 percent of the revenue—they may indeed be attracted to the new platform.

But as industry publication RCR Wireless points out, the attention of developers is precious—and lucrative developer grant programs and contests like the iFund for iPhone developers and Google’s Android Challenge may make it even more difficult for Everypoint to pry their attention away from the smartphone platforms.

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Wade Roush is a freelance science and technology journalist and the producer and host of the podcast Soonish. Follow @soonishpodcast

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