Nokia, IBM, Oracle tout developer programs

Paul Krill ist Redakteur unserer US-Schwesterpublikation InfoWorld.

Nokia may be best known as a mobile phone provider. But like other IT vendors, the company needs developers to pursue its multi-tiered strategies, a Nokia official stressed at the Evans Data Developer Relations Conference here on Monday.

The conference provided testimonials from Nokia, IBM, and Oracle on how software providers can woo the developers critical to their respective corporate camps. Key to the vendors" efforts are elements such as a Web presence, including a Web-based provision of resources. The vendors differed on whether to charge developers, with Oracle and IBM saying no and Nokia yes.

A Nokia official stressed that software development is critical to the company"s endeavors in areas such as imaging, games, multimedia, mobile network operations, and business. Nokia is thought of as a research and development company building hardware, said the official, Lee Epting, vice president of Forum Nokia, the vendor"s developer resource program. "The reality is, we have a huge investment in R&D, and a lot of that investment goes into software development," she said.

Nokia is looking to build a profitable and sustainable business for developers, she said. To that end, Nokia has unified API sets to boost platform compliance, said Epting. The company offers technology services to developers at Newsletters also are offered.

While IBM and Oracle stressed free offerings, Nokia does charge for its Forum Nokia Pro level of access, which provides early access to content and tools. It costs $5,200 per year. The community-level Forum Nokia program is free, offering tools and specifications. Nokia charges because it costs the company money to run the program, a company official said.

IBM has its developerWorks program to provide developer resources, including the alphaWorks Web site for early access to technologies, noted Gina Poole, vice president for developer relations at IBM.

Big Blue focuses on enticing students worldwide to develop for the IBM platform, Poole said. Training and free software and hardware are provided, she said.

Attracting developers means providing them code and not marketing messages, although developers still need to be marketed to, according to Poole. At technical briefings, it is best to bring technical persons rather than marketing persons to reach developers, she said.

Oracle"s keys for its Oracle Technology Network (OTN) is to know its audience, make the program free, offer software for free, and seek internal buy-in by the vendor setting up the program, said Andrew Carr, director of development evangelism at Oracle. Software is provided free until developers want to actually deploy a working application, Carr said.

"Developers need software, and they need to know how to use it," Carr said. "We find that 70 percent of our network is driven by people coming to OTN to get software."

For example, there were more than 1 million downloads of the Oracle10g database last year, said Carr.