Moroccan start-up ScreenDY allows for the smooth transition from web to mobile development

Startup Spotlight

The promise of chiseled abs or finding your soulmate might be the most vexing aspects of Google’s AdSense, but if you’ve shown it a shred of inclination for development, you will be bombarded with equally incessant offers to learn code, easily and swiftly, instead.

Companies are trying to capitalize on the surge in demand for developers, particularly mobile. A recent report by Gartner shows that demand for enterprise mobile apps will outstrip available development capacity five to one. But it’s difficult not to get bogged down in the inevitable skepticism that comes along with excessively rosy claims; this is why ScreenDy’s value proposition catches the eye.

Crises Looming

Khaled Tabyaoui, aged 49, and one of two Moroccan cofounders of ScreenDy, references the Gartner report linked above. If the gap between the demand and supply of enterprise mobile apps continues on increasing, he says “in a year or two we will be heading for a big problem,” a sort of a market crash where prices will inflate sharply and wait periods for clients increase dramatically.

But there’s also another, less pronounced, crisis taking place in another market. Mehdi Alaoui, 36, ScreenDy’s other cofounder, tells me that out of the 35 million software developers currently working worldwide, 20 are web developers and they are losing business fast. Unlike mobile, their market is shrinking. ScreenDy is focused particularly on those 20.

Based between San Francisco and Morocco, ScreenDy is a cloud platform that gives web developers the tools to transition to mobile development with minimal effort – a promise of a couple of hours of training – allowing them to create mobile apps for both Android and iOS. The name is a play on words, “Screen” + “Do it Yourself”, that reflects the service’s promise of speedy development for any screen, be it mobile, tablet, on a TV or in a car. There is no need to download and install any software as the entire process takes place online. Users just need to register to get access to a drag and drop style editor where they build and style native mobile apps. Once the app is assembled, the service will generate the code used to build the necessary files that would be submitted to either the App Store or Google Play.

This is not the first DIY mobile development platform. Those can be classed under three categories:firstly there is App factory and its clones. An easy to use template based builder that allows practically anyone to build an app, and quite quickly too, in around 10 minutes. Those are usually geared towards B2C, small retail sites that want to build a quick app and such. The results are usually generic and are quite limited in what they can offer. The second type includes the likes of Eclipse, Netbins and Xcode; more robust than the former group, but less accessible. They are geared primarily to experienced mobile developers. Then there is a third class, the one where ScreenDy stands. Unlike the competition, think Ionic and Appgyv, which produces hybrid apps, ScreenDy deliver fully native apps.

Native vs. Hybrid

A native app is developed specifically for a mobile operating system using the native language of the platform: Objective-C in the case of iOS and Java for Android. Hybrid, by contrast, is built using web languages – HTML, CSS and JavaScript – and wrapped in a native container. So for instance, hybrid apps will load most of the content as the user navigates through the app. Native apps download most of the content during installation.

A quick Google search will reveal that the jury is still out on native vs. hybrid apps. It is clear though where Tabyaoui and Alaoui stand on this matter. For them, the advantages of building native apps outweigh hybrid: better user experience, more flexibility and easier to scale.

When it comes to updating applications, both of native and hybrids ones need be resubmitted to the store, which usually takes over a week to refresh it. By contrast, using the ScreenDy technology, apps can be updated in real time. Another advantage to ScreenDy, Alaoui tells me, is that their platform is compatible with the Internet of Things and allows integration with any connected device.

Founded in late 2012 after almost two years of research, development and testing – including exhaustive beta testing with 2500 developers from 80 countries, ScreenDy was launched at TechCrunch Disrupt last September. During that period the company participated in a number of competitions and reaped a number of awards, including third place in the MIT Enterprise Forum (MITEF) Arab Startup Competition in April of last year.  

Apps are expected to generate more than $77 billion in revenues by 2017 according to Gartner.Tabyaoui believes that by solving the gap problem, this figure could reach as high as a trillion dollars within three years.