Mobile App Boom Is Lifting Heroku’s Fortunes

Heroku CEO Byron Sebastian (foreground) speaking at GigaOM's Structure 2010 conference in San Francisco

The rise of smartphones is having an impact across the entire technology food chain. Not only are companies like Motorola (s mot) moving more phones, app developers are seeing a quick jump in their fortunes. But far from the bright lights and attention are companies that provide vital building blocks, who are also enjoying the good times. These include chip companies like Qualcomm (s qcom) and cloud services provider Heroku, which offers its platform as a service and is based on Amazon’s (s amzn) raw infrastructure.

San Francisco-based Heroku, which has been focused on being a Ruby-on-Rails cloud platform, has seen a sudden demand for its service from mobile app developers, according to Byron Sebastian, chief executive officer of the two-year-old company, which is backed by the likes of Redpoint Venture Partners and Ignition Partners. The biggest boost for Heroku is going to come when RhoMobile, an open mobile framework company, shifts RhoHub, its hosted app development platform, to Heroku. That move alone will add 8,000 mobile developers to Heroku’s cloud service.

According to Heroku, in a survey, nearly 30 percent of its customers said they are building mobile apps, and nearly 60 percent indicated a high interest in developing mobile offerings. Heroku currently has over 83,000 apps (mobile and web) using its platform. Some of the more popular apps are doing 1,000 to 3,000 http requests per minute. Many are offering mobile-friendly HTML, but many are also using RESTful interfaces.

Mobile apps using Heroku’s infrastructure services include Spreadsong’s Freebooksapp and Intridea’s Oil Reporter. Colin Plamondon, co-founder and CEO of Spreadsong, points out that most mobile applications are essentially a pretty interface for web services content and have similar needs to any web application. That’s good news for companies like Heroku.

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