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8/1/2011
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Will A Cooler Corona Make Tastier Mobile Apps?

Ansca Mobile's Corona toolset for creating mobile apps that run on iOS and Android is looking like a platform. New partnerships aim to help app makers with social, marketing efforts.

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Ansca Mobile's cross-platform development framework Corona SDK is evolving from a product into a platform. The company on Tuesday plans to announce partnerships with ad network In Mobi and Android-oriented social gaming network Papaya to offer mobile developers the opportunity to integrate ads and social network experiences into their apps, and to take advantage of marketing support and analytics.

Having built Corona SDK into one of the leading tools for creating mobile apps that run on both iOS and Android devices, Ansca Mobile has recognized that getting apps into app stores is often the least daunting challenge faced by developers. Getting attention for one's app amid hundreds of thousands of other apps and understanding how to market it represent problems that can be even more difficult than writing code.

Ansca Mobile is calling its collection of services LaunchPad. Some LaunchPad services--ads, social, and analytics--have been integrated into the latest build of the Corona SDK framework. Developers will have to utilize those APIs to benefit from the new services. The app analytics data will be made available through developer accounts at the Ansca Mobile website.

Other aspects of LaunchPad, such as promotional support from Ansca Mobile, can be expected to vary on a case-by-case basis: A developer whose app has been gaining significant traction can expect an extra push from Ansca's marketing department. But not every effort will be treated the same way, which is perhaps as it should be: Promoting a low-quality app won't really make it more appealing.

For Ansca Mobile, providing broader value to the developers who use its product represents a way to burnish its own brand while adapting to industry changes.

Carlos Icaza, co-founder and chief evangelist for Ansca Mobile, says that the roles of companies change as industries mature. "Shifts in platforms and directions force companies to adapt," he explained in an email. "Ansca has to adapt to the needs of its developers in order to be able to not only provide the best tool possible for mobile development, but also the best avenue for its developers to be successful. And as a platform, in order for it to become a standard, it has to be more than just a 'feature.' The success of the platform depends on the success of its developers. The more the developers are successful, the more successful the platform."

Icaza points to the way that Microsoft helped Windows thrive by providing developers high-quality tools to write Windows applications. Ansca Mobile may not yet have reached that level of ubiquity but it's off to a good start: In 2011 so far, more than 20 million apps made with Corona SDK have been downloaded, according to the company.

The updated Corona SDK update also includes a 30-day free trial of Corona Project Manager, an IDE for Corona, and sample code from PubNub, a real-time push messaging platform, that demonstrates how to build multi-player games.

And as part of Ansca's effort to broaden the appeal of its development system beyond game makers to enterprise app developers, Corona SDK comes with a new widget library for deploying common user interface elements like slider buttons that work on both iOS and Android.

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