Apportable founders Collin Jackson & Ian Fischer
The App Store, Apple's online marketplace for iOS software, contains the world's largest collection of mobile apps. Yet Google's Android platform is the most used mobile OS in the world. If that sounds like a perfect business opportunity — well, it is.
Apportable, one of several startup companies that began at Carnegie Mellon University's Silicon Valley campus (CMU-SV), is making headlines by translating mobile apps written for Apple's iOS to Android.
Founded by Dr. Collin Jackson, an assistant research professor of the Information Networking Institute (INI) and Carnegie Mellon CyLab, Apportable recently announced it had raised $2.4 million in seed funding.
The funding was led by Google Ventures, the venture capital investment arm of Google Inc., which develops Android. News of the investment — and a high profile app launch for music icon Björk — earned Apportable a writeup in The Wall Street Journal.
The idea for Apportable began in 2011, as Jackson was browsing the Android Market and missing many of the apps and games he was using on his iPhone. "All these Android users were missing out on great new content coming out for iOS devices," he said. He and co-founder Ian Fischer decided to create a way for developers to automate the conversion between systems.
Rewriting code can be a long and expensive process, which Apportable mostly eliminates. Developers can cross-compile code originally written for iOS, allowing apps to run on Android devices and be accessible to many more potential users.
Chinmay Garde, a 2012 graduate of the INI's MS Information Technology (MSIT) program, began working with Jackson as a student. After an internship, he joined the engineering team, working on the UI framework that connects iOS and Android.
At a startup, Garde said, the team is constantly working at every level of the business, even if it's not their area of expertise. "You have to pick up new things every day. There's no one you can go to and say 'fix this for me,' but you can say 'can you help me fix this.'"
Garde started the MSIT program at CMU's main campus in Pittsburgh, but finishing his degree in Silicon Valley was "the best of both worlds," he said. The location in Silicon Valley meant exposure to expert faculty and dynamic Bay Area companies — like Jackson and Apportable.
"We're just scratching the surface of cross platform mobile development tools," Jackson said. Their current customers are heavily focused on games, but future plans include expansion into other app categories.
Sean Xiao, a CMU-SV student in the 2013 class of the MS Software Engineering (MSSE) program, will be joining Apportable this fall.
"The team members are really smart, talented programmers, with lots of experience to share," Xiao said. Having worked in large companies, he's eager to gain experience in a smaller environment.
With his CMU degree, he says he's ready to handle anything they need him to do at Apportable.
Photo: Christina Vo