Mobile application development is emerging as a strong area for IT jobs.

By Sonia R. Lelii
Dice News Staff | November 2008

We're not too far away from a world where most of our business-critical and personal computer tasks will be done on devices that fit in the palm of our hand. So, mobile computing is considered IT's next frontier as smaller devices become holistic systems that enable us to undertake much of our work. Not surprisingly, the mobile market is emerging as a strong area for IT jobs, particularly in the area of embedded applications.

Embedded applications are the programs that let users turn to their phones for maps, games, and business applications.

"As far as job creation, there is a lot of investing in mobile software and the major companies are hiring teams for mobile development," says Larry Berkin, vice president of ecosystem and corporate business development at Access Systems Americas in Sunnyvale, Calif., which provides advanced software technologies for mobile devices. "Every major company has a mobile strategy. It's a natural evolution of desktop computing moving to a portable environment."

Since many software developers are used to creating applications for large systems with seemingly endless hardware resources, many aren't used to writing software for devices with constrained resources. "We are looking for (software developers) who can work with the idea of optimizing for this type of environment," says Frank Judge, a principal software developer for Research in Motion in Andover, Mass.

Companies that are making significant investments in mobile computing - which include Google, Apple, Research in Motion and Access - will be competing for application developers who specialize in creating embedded applications for devices that have limited hardware resources such as memory and speed. At this early stage of the game, the market is fragmented - meaning it hasn't standardized on one particular platform. As a result, the space is open for a wide-range of third-party application developers expert in Linux, Java, and similar platforms.

According to Fortune magazine, phone companies are battling each other for the "loyalty of developers: coders who create bite-sized software applications for mobile devices." Last May, Research in Motion unveiled the BlackBerry Partners Fund, which will invest $150 million in venture capital money in mobile applications for all types of phones.

And at a recent career fair in Massachusetts, Research in Motion's Judge distributed a job description for the type of mobile applications developer the company's hiring for its research and development center in Andover.

Judge says the kind of tech workers Research in Motion is looking for - Java developers who specialize in embedded applications on mobile devices - are difficult to find.

Sonia R. Lelii can be reached at sonia.lelii