Bling Software was co-founded by Roy Satterthwaite and Scott Penberthy, who worked together on IBM's original Web products, Penberthy on the technical side and Satterthwaite as a product manager. They both left IBM, but hooked up again in 2005 and went into business together.
"We understood the Web and the Web business models and thought that the mobile Internet had a larger potential and greater impact than the original PC-based Internet," says Satterthwaite, Bling CEO. "But there wasn't a good development model for mobile computing. It's very easy to develop Web-based applications, but it's difficult to do the same thing on the handset."
Mobile carriers generally support mobile applications that run on a slimmed-down version of Java by Sun Microsystems or BREW (Binary Runtime Environment for Wireless) by Qualcomm. Cell phones with either software can download and run programs. To make an application available to all mobile users, a developer has to build the application in both Java and BREW, and also create versions that communicate with each of about 75 different mobile phones. A simple one or two screen application such as a weather forecast can take 5 or 6 months to build and costs hundreds of thousands of dollars. Developers must know object-oriented (O-O) programming and how to port their code to many different devices. Bling Software was formed to overcome these constraints.
"What we decided to do 18 months ago is put a thin client layer on top of BREW and Java and make this layer work with each of them and 75 different handsets," explains Satterthwaite. "Using the Bling Player, the Web author doesn't have to be an O-O coder and doesn't have to understand the profiles of all 75 handsets. A Web author can code for handsets using the standard scripting they already use on the Web. Mobile applications can be developed in one tenth the time."
The BREW-compatible version of the Bling Player was released in October. The Java version is scheduled for release in December. Both versions will be available as a download that developers can try out.
"We took a truly standards-based approach," concludes Satterthwaite. "Our goal is to work with the Web and mobile publishers of the world, have them use our platform instead of doing it the old brute force way."
Bling Software has ten employees and is growing. It is hiring additional staff and expects to be moving onto larger offices soon.
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