Survey: Wireless developers target IM over e-mail

A survey of developers building applications for wireless devices such as cell phones and handheld computers pegged instant messaging as the technology du jour, according to a survey released this week.

Overtaking e-mail as the most popular wireless application being developed for corporations and consumers, more than half of the 600 programmers polled said messaging is their new love, results of a survey from Evans Data Corp. showed. Conducted every six months, the Santa Cruz, California, market research company uses the Wireless Developer Survey to follow trends in software programming.

Considered by many a consumer application, instant messaging has crept into the workplace at an increasing rate. As well as using standalone messaging products, organizations are integrating the technology into internal applications so employees can collaborate on projects and communicate quickly over the Internet.

"A majority of developers working on messaging applications are creating them for business purposes," said Jay Dixit, an analyst with Evans Data.

About 32 percent of the developers polled said they are building commercial applications used by consumers and businesses that incorporate instant messaging technology. Another 23 percent of developers are developing internal applications with messaging capabilities, and about 10 percent said they are building instant messaging applications for individuals or small workgroups inside a corporation.

Separately, the study observed changes in the wireless standards being used by developers. Wi-Fi, a popular standard for wireless networks, is now used by one in four developers, compared to one in five developers polled six months ago. Also known as 802.11b, the wireless protocol was the only technology to gain ground since the previous survey.

The popularity among developers of Bluetooth and HomeRF (home radio frequency) held steady since the last survey, Dixit said. About 14 percent of those polled said they are working with Bluetooth, and about 8 percent chose HomeRF.

Meanwhile, the most used security standard, according to Evans Data, is HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol over Secure Socket Layer, or HTTP over SSL), a protocol for accessing secure Web servers or encrypting Web pages. About 39 percent of those polled said they are targeting HTTPS above other security standards.

A security standard used with WAP (Wireless Application Protocol) called WTLS (Wireless Transport Layer Security) is being used by 9.6 percent of developers, the research company said, while RADIUS (Remote Authentication Dial-In User Service) is used by 11.5 percent of those polled. Another 40 percent of respondents said they use various other security protocols, according to the survey.

"That suggests that we're still very early in the battle for wireless security protocols," Dixit said.