Reddo Mobility shuts down. Is App Refactoring fading away?

Is Reddo Mobility shutting down a sign of the times, or is the cream rising to the top of the App Refactoring space?

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.

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. 

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Hi Gabe, great read. Just a quick update that StarMobile has also shut down. Primarily due to the lack of focus on the GoToMarket side. In fact the challenge for most vendors in the B2E space isn't the technology (although it's fairly non-trivial to make things work), it's knowing which use-cases drive business impact, which ones to avoid, and how to reach the business stakeholders (w/ budget) that care in a consistent, scalable way.
Posted prematurely.

Basically the winners here will be vendors that can combine technology with a focused go-to-market. Partners and partner enablement will also play a key role here for those vendors without enough 'umph' to amplify their own voice and story in the market.

The 'wait for vendors' approach is the Ostrich approach to the problem and generally adopted by companies that are 'waiting and watching' and hoping for a deus ex machina. These companies will be irrelevant in a few years. Highly customized environments, coupled with many different roles and personas using the same application lead vendors to cram thousands of screens worth of transactions in one mobile experience, defeating the point of mobile.

Definitely interesting to see the space play out. Acquisitions are likely once the cream floats to the top as you said.
Capriza is really struggling too. 18 months ago they had raised a total of $50M in VC money at a $150M valuation. They have 125+ employees and a $15M+ annual burn rate but less than $5M in revenue with very high churn rates. They have been trying to raise more capital for months but the math doesn’t work. They are facing a significant down-round if not a distressed sale of the company. Not a surprise. They have inherent limitations to their technology as they can only take a small subset of HTML applications and turn them into HTML5 based zapps. Despite selling the idea of being a citizen-developer tool, it requires a significant amount of professional services to get the platform to accommodate anything more than very basic use cases. They have tainted the entire market. Wish it were otherwise because I really think there is a need here.
BTW in 2014 VMware engaged Capriza for internal mobile use cases but threw them out earlier this year when they discovered their solution had significant limitations.

Capriza just raised another $23m. There are a vast array of use cases in place, the problem in the market is a lack of education. Not knowing what is possible with the technology impacts a number of powerful use cases - as they bring on more clients more use cases will arise and a footprint will emerge.
i believe overall browser virtualization as an approach is a bad start point for getting your apps mobilized. As they say "there is no magic wand" and all comments from other folks suggest the same. Infact - IMHO I see app modernization as 3 phase affair:
phase 1: we just need something like SSO + push notifications for legacy apps  (needs minimal budget)
phase 2: responsive web for some of the marquee/most widely used apps.
phase 3: Investing in SOA layer + frontend decoupling for identified key apps.