Brightcove Moves Mobile App Creation Into the Cloud

Brightcove has made a name for itself as one of the largest platforms for video distribution online. But now it is stepping beyond just the managing and distribution of online video with a new SaaS-based product for easily creating, maintaining and distributing iOS (s aapl), Android (s goog) and mobile web apps. The company’s new product, called Brightcove App Cloud, is designed to take much of the pain out of making content available through native apps on the most popular mobile platforms.
With limited resources for mobile development, many publishers are forced to choose between building native apps for smartphone platforms that provide advanced user interface options and a better user experience, or to build HTML5 websites that are optimized for most mobile browsers but don’t provide as much functionality. For publishers with multiple distinct media properties, the process is multiplied each time they wish to build a new app for each show, channel or website.
With Brightcove App Cloud, the company says publishers will be able to build both native apps and mobile-friendly websites in less time and by using fewer development resources. In an interview, Brightcove CEO Jeremy Allaire said the platform aims to “turn app development into web development.” By doing so, he says Brightcove can lower the total cost of ownership for building mobile applications.
The Brightcove App Cloud is an HTML5-based cloud platform that provides development, compilation, automated distribution, analytics and advertising tools all in one place. By combining these features, Brightcove enables publishers to significantly reduce the time and resources needed to build apps for multiple devices; it also makes it easier for publishers to troubleshoot and update apps once they have been published.
With a customizable and skinnable interface, Brightcove App Cloud lets publishers build consistent application environments for native apps across platforms, as well as for HTML5-compliant mobile browsers. Using just HTML5, CSS3, JavaScript and the App Cloud SDK, developers can create rich mobile apps without having to know native app development languages like Objective-C (although it helps) and without needing expensive design software. Developers can therefore build the user interface once and have the same look and feel translated on iOS, Android and mobile web applications. At the same time, the platform provides tools for creating platform-specific experiences when available.
By moving the entire process into the cloud, Brightcove also has improved the development workflow for app creation, by making it transparent and reducing the need for developers to send wireframed or partially finished apps to one another. Templates can be easily uploaded, updated and manipulated in the platform’s web interface before being compiled and published. The Brightcove App Cloud also includes administrative tools for managing templates, apps and content connections in a single place.
Making the process cloud-based also has the benefit of improving the testing and troubleshooting of apps before they are submitted to the Apple App Store or Android Marketplace. Brightcove has even introduced a free app called Workshop that enables developers to download and test out mobile apps on the desired device before submitting them to mobile app stores. And once finished, the platform can automatically compile the apps into their native languages and even submit them to app stores for review or publishing.
While the launch is focused on native mobile apps and web capabilities, Allaire said he expects the product will be extended to support more platforms in the future. That could include support for various connected TV platforms, as well as the ability to build applications on social platforms like Facebook.
The introduction of the Brightcove App Cloud adds a whole new cloud-based product for Brightcove to offer to digital media publishers. The offering also hooks in with its video distribution product — now called Brightcove Video Cloud — to let customers easily distribute videos directly into mobile apps. But while the App Cloud introduces a whole new line of business for Brightcove, Allaire said he doesn’t expect the company to scale up incredibly due to the new product. Instead, it will leverage the same sales and support team it has already scaled up to back its Video Cloud product.
For now, the Brightcove App Cloud is in private beta with a number of test clients, including Lifetime and the U.S. State Department, with plans to launch commercially in the second half of the year. Once launched, it will be targeted at mid-market and enterprise customers who have a need to build and maintain multiple applications across devices. It will be free to developers who just want to test out mobile apps, but they will need a license to compile those apps and publish them. That will include subscription pricing based on the number of apps that they build with the platform.