Smart phones and PDAs are all very well, but users are crying out for third-party software to run on them, according to BrainDock, an e-commerce company specialising in back-end distribution and payment services for software companies.
The firm recently signed a deal with Symbian to develop e-commerce solutions for software companies wanting to sell their products onto the Symbian platform.
As part of the service, the company will provide software retailers with a storefront accessible from their own Web site. The company will handle transaction processing, and distribution digital rights management on the retailers' behalf.
The obvious question is why anyone would want to run software on a small footprint phone in the first place, but Jonathan Glaser, BrainDock CEO, argues that mobile phones will become more powerful, and suggests that PDAs and phones will become synonymous.
Glaser also points to the use of Bluetooth technology, linking phones with more powerful processing devices. BrainDock offers services to companies wanting to distribute Microsoft Pocket PC software, along with Palm titles, but he is critical of efforts to link the Palm Computing platform with mobile phones.
"Their operating system has been identified by many as a 16-bit OS that may well not be robust enough for the communications requirement of mobile phones," he says.
People wanting to jazz up their PDA with new software, or suppliers wishing to sell software, can check out www.BrainDock.com.
Currently, software is downloaded to a PC or Macintosh before being loaded onto mobile devices, but with the evolution of 2.5G and 3G networks, Glaser hopes to make software available for download over cellular links.
He sees client-side software as complementing centralised Wap-based services, and argues that one service could be used to extend another.
In the future, the company will move towards a Wireless Application Service Provider model, providing the services needed to access or host software applications as necessary.
This was first published in June 2000