By Ben Rooney
Service2Media, the Dutch mobile app development company, has secured $10 million in a third round of funding which will allow the company to develop its innovative app development platform.
The company, founded in 2005, has developed a system that allow developers to write an app and then port it to any mobile platform through their proprietary platform. it produces a native app for each operating system and even allows for the different types of phone within the Android market.
A recent report by Forrester Research has forecast that the global market for mobile apps services will reach $17 billion for the IT services providers by the turn of 2015. According to Gartner, “cross-platform mobile application development tools will become more numerous and more capable, driving a slow shift from platform-specific to platform-independent application development technologies”.
Geert Kolthof, CEO, said his coders develop their apps in an open-source scripting language called Lua, which their system then translates to produce native code for iPhone, iPads and Android platforms. It will also support other mobile systems such as Blackberry and even more basic feature phones.
Mr. Kolthof said their system allows users to maintain a single version of the application. When an app is updated, the master Lua copy is changed and then run through their platform to produce all of the different native apps. Maintaining a single master copy greatly reduces complexity.
“We have customers who want to produce 50 apps a year, and then have those apps run on multiple platforms. You cannot do that with conventional methods of production,” he said.
Service2Media has developed apps for CNN, Al Jazeera, Rabobank and Reed Elsevier among others. The company has offices in the Netherlands, U.K., Spain, U.A.E. and U.S.A.
The third round funding (previous rounds include €1.3 million in 2007, another €1 million in 2009) will allow the company to open its platform and offer it as a platform as a service technology, charging other developers to use it.
“We believe the app market will grow very strongly over the next few years on a range of devices, not just mobile devices, but TVs and other areas as well,” said Mr. Kolthof.
Mr. Kolthof said he believed that while HTML5 was supposed to offer a similar “write-once, run-anywhere” service, it was some years from being fully supported. “We can produce web apps [HTML5 apps] on our platform too,” he said.
“Do not underestimate the users’ demand for a rich experience,” he said. “At the moment native apps are the only ones that can really deliver that. We believe in the future that may change as web apps are better supported, but not now.”
Mr. Kolthof predicted a world where the most sophisticated apps would still have to be native apps. “We have developed a sophisticated banking app for Rabobank. You could not do what we have done using HTML5. It just would not be possible.”
The investment was made jointly by Prime Ventures and Newion’s Private Plus Fund. Newion runs several venture and growth funds focusing primarily on the Benelux market.
Geert Kolthof, Holland, Service2Media