Francisco Kattan

Insights on the Mobile Ecosystem

Is BREW Dead? Lessons learned.

A while ago I attended Fierce’s Mobile Operating System Debate webinar and could not help but notice the dismal future of BREW as a platform for mobile application development.  As illustrated on slide 5 (see presentation from webinar referenced above), iGR found that ZERO percent of existing mobile developers surveyed planned to develop for BREW in the future.  We could debate the specifics of the data in the survey, but it is clear that BREW is losing developer mind share rapidly (while Apple, Google and RIM are all gaining share, as confirmed by iGR’s survey).

To make matters worse,  just yesterday Lowell McAdam, Verizon’s CEO, announced that Verizon (BREW’s biggest supporter) will be putting its weight behind the Java platform as part of its new effort to open its network to application developers.   Could this be the final nail in the coffin for BREW?  It’s not clear, but please voice your opinion via the poll below.  In any case, what is most important is to understand the key lessons learned from the BREW experience:

  1. Too difficult to get on deck.  Operators such as Verizon Wireless control the deck and it’s too difficult for new developers to get approved.  The deck is so small, there is no room for creative, long tail developers.  Operators stick with “sure bets”:  Branded content and existing developers.  New developers need not apply.
  2. It is too costly and cumbersome to get certified.   NSTL certification is a nightmare, especially for new developers.   Developers have to pay a hefty fee not only for each application, but also for each handset model they want to support.  5 apps across 10 handsets = 50 certifications!   If you update an application, you have to recertify (and pay) again.
  3. Rev shares get spread too thin:  the operator, the agregator, Qualcomm, Adobe (if using Flash Lite),  the brand owner (for branded content), and finally the developer
  4. Too difficult for consumers to discover applications.  Decks are too deep and unless you’re lucky to have the operator promotes your application, it’s hard for consumers to find the needle in the haystack.

It’s no wonder developers are flocking to the new app stores that bypass the operators and abandoning BREW.

These are some of the key lessons from BREW in my opinion.  Please respond with your comments and additional lessons you think are worth sharing.

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Written by Francisco Kattan

June 3, 2009 at 8:29 pm

4 Responses

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  1. [...] Binary Runtime Environment for Wireless (BREW) is a Qualcomm’s equivalent of J2ME. Except its based on C and C++ and although it now supports GSM, its mostly used in CDMA phones. There is a fair share of criticism for this platform and questions about its future. [...]

  2. [...] Adobe and Verizon launched two services: A Flash app download service as part of the BREW Get it Now ecosystem (see the October 2006 news) and Verizon “Dashboard” (announced in March 2007), a much more ambitious service based on Adobe’s on-device portal called Flash Cast. Both services, had issues.  The BREW Get it Now offering failed because it was too difficult for developers to onboard new apps, developer revenue shares were too thin, app discovery was difficult for consumers, and Verizon moved too slowly to certify new handsets with Flash (for more on this see: Is Brew Dead?  Lessons Learned). [...]

  3. [...] Adobe and Verizon launched two services: A Flash app download service as part of the BREW Get it Now ecosystem (see the October 2006 news) and Verizon “Dashboard” (announced in March 2007), a much more ambitious service based on Adobe’s on-device portal called Flash Cast. Both services, had issues. The BREW Get it Now offering failed because it was too difficult for developers to onboard new apps, developer revenue shares were too thin, app discovery was difficult for consumers, and Verizon moved too slowly to certify new handsets with Flash (for more on this see: Is Brew Dead? Lessons Learned). [...]

  4. [...] Adobe and Verizon launched two services: A Flash app download service as part of the BREW Get it Now ecosystem (see the October 2006 news) and Verizon “Dashboard” (announced in March 2007), a much more ambitious service based on Adobe’s on-device portal called Flash Cast. Both services, had issues. The BREW Get it Now offering failed because it was too difficult for developers to onboard new apps, developer revenue shares were too thin, app discovery was difficult for consumers, and Verizon moved too slowly to certify new handsets with Flash (for more on this see: Is Brew Dead? Lessons Learned). [...]


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