a premium video services provider, to a Web functionality provider. The last critical step in that transition may have taken place yesterday, as the company once considered a Google takeover target makes its move in the fast-growing HTML5 apps platforms market.For the last three years, Brightcove has been implementing a steady transition from a YouTube alternative, to
Unlike appMobi, whose mobiUs ecosystem uses a utility model for billing customers on a granular scale, Brightcove's new App Cloud will be a premium Web apps host. It will provide APIs that aim to fill in HTML5's many device-specific gaps, including for accessing tablets' built-in cameras, accelerometers, and location finders. And it will charge developers fees starting at $15,000 per year once their apps go live.
"Pure HTML5 web apps cannot appear in app markets like the iTunes App Store or Google Android Market, but these apps can because they have that native wrapper," reads a corporate blog post yesterday from Jeff Whatcott, Brightcove's chief marketing officer. "This wrapper also gives these apps access to native capabilities like the camera, microphone, contact list, or notification system that are off limits to the browser."
It's the wrapper that substantiates Brightcove's value proposition. It will enable member developers to build their own custom templates - effectively, wrappers within a wrapper - enabling them to provide multiple services in a uniform, company brand-specific fashion. This way, companies such as content providers (one example being AMC, pictured at right) can reuse their custom wrappers for apps that present or publicize multiple titles (shows, movies, video games, other apps), letting them create their own destination points for monetizable content outside of the iTunes App Store.
Whatcott pointed to Adobe's buyout of Nitobi, maker of the PhoneGap framework, last October; and Facebook's buyout of Strobe, maker of StrobeJS, the following month, as clear indicators that a market is being created outside of the market Apple already created.
"The crazy thing about this new hybrid app approach is that the app economy wasn't supposed to be this way," writes Whatcott. "Apple's original vision for apps drew a bright line between Web apps and native apps, apparently under the belief that native code was going to yield the best end user experiences and monetization opportunities... Unfortunately for everyone, platform-specific native app development has turned out to be relatively expensive."
Thus the change in tune he perceives toward hybrid apps: HTML5 cores written to utilize device-specific APIs and wrappers. He goes on to argue that while "Open Web" proponents assert that standardization will eventually flatten all Web development beyond the need for any hybridization, the need for businesses to monetize mobile apps in a market full of unique devices is driving development trends more heavily toward a somewhat less flat model.