Funambol, now billing itself as the leader in mobile sync, has bought Zapatec, which creates Web 2.0 solutions using AJAX.
The result, the company believes, will be a one-stop shop for building mobile applications that run as well as native apps across multiple platforms.
Funambol has its developers in Italy, Zapatec in the Ukraine, but both have operations in Silicon Valley that will be consolidated in Redwood City. Zapatec CEO Dror Matalon will become vice president of emerging technologies for the combined company, said Funambol vice president of worldwide marketing Hal Steger.
The combined company is focused on a tough problem for mobile developers, namely how do you create apps that integrate with native apps, yet don't have to be completely rewritten for each platform.
Steger said Funambol's sync technology solves part of the first problem, Zapatec most of the second, and the combination will enable a total solution.
"A lot of people think the future of mobile apps will be like Web apps, like AJAX apps on desktop browsers," said Steger. "If you can build a Web app that works on a lot of phones you can just build one version."
Not exactly. "Mobile is different from desktops because two of the most important things you need to do are integrate with the core apps on the phone, like the address book and calendar, because other apps do." This makes it harder to build a single app for multiple platforms and carriers.
Funambol solves part of the problem since its mobile sync is designed to be cross-platform and cross-carrier. Zapatec solves the coding problem.
You can call this innovation, but then it's all based on an open source core. Developers will want to do business with Funambol, not just download its stuff, to get the full effect, Steger said, but the effect should be cool.