Thursday, November 12, 2009

Testing solutions for BlackBerry and other mobile devices

It's interesting that quite a few sponsors of this year's BlackBerry Developer Conference had something to do with testing solutions. Now, it's a very interesting and practical topic, and something that I get asked a lot by clients — so here's a quick survey of the companies that had a presence at the conference and have interesting solutions to offer.
  • DeviceAnywhere is the one solution that's probably most well-known. They provide remote access to a bunch of physical devices on a variety of carriers that are physically located in the US, Europe, Asia, and have a pretty robust solution with client that works on both Windows and OSX. Many people have found their solution very useful.
  • Perfecto Mobile is a competitor of DeviceAnywhere and provides a similar remote-access solution. They are based in Israel and less known around these parts, but a quick look at their website shows that the scale of their operation and range of devices/networks is very similar. They, like DeviceAnywhere, have a set of automation features, which they claim are more advanced than DA's. One significant difference between them and DA is, according to the rep I talked to, that their way of capturing screen and injecting keypresses/etc is non-intrusive and thus they can more quickly swap devices in and out, and, importantly, give developers easy access to pre-launched handsets. If that is true, that's a big advantage, because I have stumbled into issues of DA not providing access to new devices quickly enough. Definitely worth checking out.
  • bsquare is in a different niche. Their solution provides QA depts with a way to automate testing on real devices — once you hook a device up to the Windows machine running their product, you have the ability to create automatic test cases that include the information on both how to execute a test scenario and how to validate that a test has passed. Their solution seems very flexible and powerful. The $10K per-seat price tag seems fair, but it also means that their customers are going to be either enterprise app developers or bigger consumer app developers who have the money to make the investment (Google is reportedly one of their clients). They might do well to offer their technology to the pay-per-use solution providers like the two above, or offer their technology on a subscription license.
  • Intertek is a large global company that provides testing services in many industries, and the people at the conf presented the mobile branch. Quoting their rep, "our prices per hour are similar to DeviceAnywhere, except we actually do the testing". The price, of course, I presume, varies wildly depending on whether you choose to do testing in India (overnight, too!) or in Europe or US. You might presumably choose to use the Indian resources while having them use DeviceAnywhere or competitors to access the US devices.

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