I love the concept of app refactoring, and have written about it several times over the past few years, so I was saddened to see that Reddo Mobility has closed down for good. The writing was more or less on the wall several months ago when their executive team no longer appeared on their website. At the time, I reached out and was told that there were product announcements coming soon, but something was clearly going on at the organizational level. Ultimately, finances forced the company to close its doors.
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In a way, I’m not surprised. It has nothing to do with Reddo–in fact, I liked their approach–rather, it seems that the world does not share my enthusiasm for app refactoring. In the last two or three years, we’ve seen five companies appear on the scene that have their own unique takes on it. PowWow and StarMobile focus on Windows and web apps (though StarMobile primarily focuses on web). Reddo focused exclusively on Windows apps, while Capriza focuses entirely on web apps. The one common ideology between them was that with an application layout utility, you could re-design an existing application’s UI for various mobile use cases.
The fifth vendor, HopTo, took a different approach altogether, preserving the look of Windows apps and building in shortcuts and intelligence based on how users interact with the applications. They use a series of toolbars to mobilize Windows applications, so while it’s not redesigning the UI, it is still sort of like skinning an application for use on mobile devices.
The thing is, even with five vendors doing this, I don’t often run into app refactoring in the wild. Frankly, of the four vendors left, each of them has been less active in 2016 that at any other point in the last few years. I’m left wondering why, especially since when I first heard about this all I could think about was that it’s the kind of technology I’ve wanted for fifteen years. If you would have told the 2001 version of me that I’d actually be able to transform an application between device form factors in real time, I would have cried tears of joy.
So what’s holding it back? I can think of several possible reasons:
- Is it not as attractive of a solution as I think it should be?
- Is it a solution looking for a problem?
- Do people just not know about it?
- Have people tried it and found that it doesn’t work with their applications or devices?
- Are customers happy waiting for ISVs to make mobile versions of their apps?
I’ve been surprised that Citrix and VMware haven’t made a move to acquire a technology like this. It’s possible they’ve evaluated it and found that it’s just not something that their customers want, but I still think an app refactoring platform can really bolster the “any, any, any” message coming from both companies. Maybe the real reason is that there just isn’t anything mature enough on the market.
It will be interesting to see how this unfolds. Perhaps the cream is just floating to the top, and someone will emerge from the remaining pool of PowWow, StarMobile, Capriza, and HopTo as the premier platform (though that will be tough given the different focus of each company). Then again, maybe Reddo shutting down is the “canary in the coal mine” that signals the worst is yet to come.