Microsoft Buys Xamarin To Broaden Mobile Footprint

Microsoft acquires Xamarin, which specializes in cross-platform mobile app development, to strengthen its mobile portfolio.

Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading

February 25, 2016

3 Min Read
<p align="left">(Image: Microsoft)</p>

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9 Windows 10 Apps For A Productivity Edge

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Microsoft has confirmed its purchase of Xamarin, a company focused on cross-platform mobile application development. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Xamarin enables .NET developers to use Microsoft's C# programming language to build fully native mobile apps that can run across platforms including iOS, Android, Windows, and Mac using a singular code base.

Since it was founded in 2011, Xamarin has expanded to more than 350 employees, wrote co-founder and CEO Nat Friedman in a blog post from the company. Its 15,000+ customers span 120 countries and include business giants like Honeywell, Coca-Cola Bottling, Alaska Airlines, and JetBlue.

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Microsoft and Xamarin are longtime partners. In 2013, the two companies announced a global collaboration to help mobile app developers more easily build cross-platform apps using Microsoft's Visual Studio.

Since then, Xamarin has been integrated into Microsoft's Visual Studio, Microsoft Azure, Office 365, and the Enterprise Mobility Suite to give developers an end-to-end solution for building native apps for different platforms. The collaboration also aimed to provide developers with training and tools.

Rumors of a potential acquisition have been floating throughout the tech industry since the partnership kicked off. On Feb. 24, Scott Guthrie, executive VP of Microsoft's Cloud and Enterprise Group, confirmed the deal.

"With today's acquisition announcement we will be taking this work much further to make our world class developer tools and services even better with deeper integration and seamless mobile app dev experiences," he wrote in a blog post announcing the news.

"The combination of Xamarin, Visual Studio, Visual Studio Team Services, and Azure provides a complete mobile app dev solution that provides everything you need to develop, test, deliver, and instrument mobile apps for every device," he continued. "We are really excited to see what developers build with it."

The acquisition fits well into Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella's "mobile-first, cloud-first" vision. Since taking the helm of the company, Nadella has overseen the expansion of Microsoft's mobile offerings to include apps built for rival platforms iOS and Android.

As sales of Windows Phone continue to lag, Microsoft has taken a new approach to expanding its mobile footprint: building its apps and services for all platforms so consumers can use them regardless of their preferred device.

Of course, Redmond also wants to boost the offerings of its Windows Store, which is comparatively sparse alongside the Apple App Store and Google Play. It needs to boost the appeal of creating Windows apps.

Enter Xamarin. Developers can use Xamarin tools to build apps that run across several platforms, including Windows. This could strengthen Microsoft's Universal Windows Platform, which centers on the idea of apps running across Windows 10 devices including smartphones, tablets, and PCs.

This is the latest in a string of mobile-focused acquisitions at Redmond. Over the past year, Microsoft has also snapped up messaging app Talko, calendar app Sunrise, to-do list app Wunderlist, and mobile finance tool MileIQ.

The purchase of Xamarin is interesting because, unlike the app-focused acquisitions, this one specifically targets developers -- an audience Microsoft desperately needs in order to strengthen its "One Windows" platform.

Guthrie also noted he will further explain plans related to the Xamarin acquisition at Microsoft's Build 2016 conference. The sold-out event starts March 30 at San Francisco's Moscone Center.

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About the Author(s)

Kelly Sheridan

Staff Editor, Dark Reading

Kelly Sheridan is the Staff Editor at Dark Reading, where she focuses on cybersecurity news and analysis. She is a business technology journalist who previously reported for InformationWeek, where she covered Microsoft, and Insurance & Technology, where she covered financial services. Sheridan earned her BA in English at Villanova University. You can follow her on Twitter @kellymsheridan.

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