Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Symbian joins tool commoditization

As David Wood mentioned in his blog last Friday (during his visit to the US), the S60 development environment Carbide from Nokia is now available free. (It’s also mentioned by bloggers Lucian Tomuta and Simon Judge). Of course, Carbide is based on the open source Eclipse IDE.

Of course, having a free (as in beer) IDE is the bare minimum nowadays for getting ISV interest in a smartphone platform. Today you can get a free download of the IDE for the gPhone, the iPhone SDK or various BlackBerry JDEs. Microsoft apparently still sells Visual Studio and its various Windows Mobile add-ons.

What remains as an issue is the host platform. Symbian, Windows Mobile and BlackBerry require Windoze PC while Apple (natch) requires Mac OS X. Google and its Android work with either (or Linux).

While gcc from the FSF/Project GNU has been available for decades, it has been the combination of Eclipse and the Internet that really combined to commoditize development tools over the past decade: if programmers expect free tools or nothing, it doesn’t get much more commodity than that. It seems as though the real passing point came in February 2005, when Borland joined the Eclipse Foundation. After that, there was no turning back.

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