One of the biggest pains for mobile application developers is ensuring their programs work across the latest versions of iOS, Android and Windows Phone.
Xamarin CEO Nat Friedman wants to remove this particular headache for developers by giving them the tools they need to share their code across all three platforms. Xamarin's development kit, known as MonoTouch on iOS and just Mono on Android, lets users write applications in C# language using the .Net Framework. It also provides access to thousands of native iOS and Android APIs and support for rich integrated development environments (IDE).
The key to Xamarin's cross-platform capabilities is its use of Mono, open-source software that was designed ten years ago to run Microsoft .Net applications across multiple platforms. Xamarin strongly benefits from having longtime Mono project director Miguel de Icaza as its CTO. De Icaza, who co-founded the GNOME project in 1997 and has been writing open-source software since 1992, has overseen the Mono project since its inception in 2001 when he was working at Ximian. De Icaza later launched Mono's desktop, server and mobile offerings while at Novell.
Xamarin's development kit is available on the Android Market and the Apple App Store and costs $400 for the Professional edition, $1,000 for the Enterprise edition and $2,500 for the Enterprise Priority edition. The company has yet to release a development kit for Windows Mobile application stores. So far the kit has been used to develop several high-profile mobile apps and games, including Chillingo's Zombie Party for iPad, Tibco's Spotfire and Rumination Software's CRUX Crosswords. Friedman says his goal for the company in 2012 is to build its community to more than 250,000 developers. He says that upward of 450 different users download Xamarin's product on a given day.
"We have a lot of customers who have found us and said that instead of having four separate code bases, I can now save myself hours of engineering," says Friedman. "We want to build the most powerful and simple platform for mobile developers. It's going to be a mobile world and all software will have a mobile interface."
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