How Cloud Browse makes Flash accessible on iOS devices

Jun 23, 2011
Tech

Among the biggest gripes consumers have about iOS devices is their inability to support Flash-based technologies. While you shouldn’t hold your breath and wait for Apple to reconsider, one MIT-based startup has a pretty compelling workaround. AlwaysOn Technologies last March came out with its Cloud Browse application that enables Flash and Java-based content on iOS […]

Among the biggest gripes consumers have about iOS devices is their inability to support Flash-based technologies. While you shouldn’t hold your breath and wait for Apple to reconsider, one MIT-based startup has a pretty compelling workaround.

AlwaysOn Technologies last March came out with its Cloud Browse application that enables Flash and Java-based content on iOS devices by a hosting desktop Firefox browser on independent servers.

In this edition of Meet the Makers, AlwaysOn Technologies founder Lida Tang explains how it all works technologically, the variables that constitute his subscription pricing structure, and the probable next mobile platform for Cloud Browse. to enter.

Appolicious: How is AlwaysOn Technologies cracking the code in terms of allowing users to display Flash/Java content on their iOS devices?

Lida Tang: Steve Jobs is correct in that running Flash/Java natively on iOS devices would not be performant enough. We provide a hosted browsing session in our secure data centers which does all the heavy computation. In fact, Cloud Browse is actually faster than MobileSafari even when displaying pages without Flash or Java running.

APPO: Describe the underlying technology that enables this and how long you’ve been working on it.

LT: I’ve been working in the Flash and streaming space for the past three years. Since Cloud Browse’s release last March, we have significantly improved our server capacity and streaming reliability. While our streaming technology is proprietary, we use a lot of open standards and open source technologies so we can create a smooth integrated experience for our users.

APPO: Cloud Browse is currently available to download for $2.99, with premium/unlimited access for an additional $5.99 per month. How did you arrive at that price and what percentage of your users are paying for the unlimited access?

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LT: The price is based on cost drivers, such as hosting, customer response and reactions and competitor pricing positions. The app store provides good feedback on pricing changes so you can tweak it based on your objective. In terms of our subscribers, our conversion rate is in-line with the freemium model we are using. We have very high engagement with our subscribers, some of which use the app every day.

APPO: Who do you consider your primary competition?

LT: While there are apps on the app store that offer some parts of the browsing experience, unlike the fully functioning Cloud Browse, the major competition is actually HTML5. If HTML5 makes browser based plugins like Flash, Silverlight and Java obsolete, then demand for a separate browser that supports those plugins will decrease.

APPO: Have you been approached at all by Apple, Adobe or any other heavyweights in the space?

LT: I am not able to disclose discussions at this time. However, I want to emphasize that our company vision is related to personal and corporate mobile cloud computing, not just Java/Flash unlocking, which is the most visible application of the technology. There are other applications of the technology, deals in progress, recently closed etc., that we are not ready to announce yet.

APPO: Does AlwaysOn plan to release additional apps on iOS and other platforms?

LT: We are releasing white label apps, versions of Cloud Browse for corporate users. It will be an ongoing issue, corporations have invested a lot of money in Flash and Java platforms or other application formats, with Cloud Browse they won’t have to reinvent or redesign the app and retrain users. They can just have us host their site or application, at a fraction of the price of other solutions.

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I encourage your readers to get in touch with us if they require this service. We do plan to release Cloud Browse on multiple platforms, with Android being the most actively requested by our users.

APPO: How big is the company and how long have you all been working together?

LT: The company was formed over a year ago and I began recruiting new team members seven months ago to help on the business side. We have three team members now, an MPA from Columbia and an MBA from Babson. We are now hiring a few developers to widen our technical advantage.

APPO: What are the three biggest things in the mobile app arena that are keeping you up at night?

LT: I sleep pretty well. The future looks bright for cloud computing. The three most exciting trends that I dream about are:

  • 2 billion Internet users and the phenomenal rise of the cloud and mobile platforms
  • the potential for the cloud to improve user experience and drive down corporate costs
  • the fact that our hosted service can deliver a better experience than a native application, and will always be faster. It shows the potential of hosted sessions.
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Brad Spirrison

Brad Spirrison is the managing editor of appoLearning and Appolicious Inc. In this capacity, he has sampled and evaluated thousands of iOS and Android applications. He also holds an M.A. in Education and Media Ecology from New York University.

Spirrison worked in concert with appoLearning Expert and Instructional Technology Specialist Leslie Morris while curating and evaluating educational applications.

A longtime media and technology commentator and executive, Spirrison is also a regular contributor to ABC News, The Huffington Post, TechCrunch, Bloomberg West and The Christopher Gabriel Program.

Spirrison is married and lives with his wife and young son in Chicago. As his son was born just weeks before the debut of the iPad, Spirrison takes his work home with him and regularly samples and enjoys a variety of educational applications for young children.

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