The acquisition is Microsoft’s latest move to maintain relevance in mobile-app development, a field dominated by rivals Apple and Google.
Microsoft has signed a deal to acquire software-development tool builder Xamarin, the software giant’s latest effort to gain a bigger footprint on mobile devices built by other companies.
Xamarin, based in San Francisco, counts Alaska Airlines and Coca-Cola Bottling among its more than 15,000 customers, Microsoft Cloud and Enterprise division chief Scott Guthrie wrote in a blog post.
Terms were not disclosed, but The Wall Street Journal reportedit was between $400 million and $500 million. Microsoft declined to comment on the figure.
Microsoft, which lags far behind mobile-operating-system rivals Google and Apple, has turned to acquisitions in its bid to stay relevant among mobile-app developers and users.
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The deal “makes Microsoft a must-consider option” for mobile- app developers, Jeffrey Hammond, an analyst with researcher Forrester, said in a blog post. “We’ve been expecting this acquisition for a while,” he said. “It just makes too much sense for both parties and their customers.”
Xamarin’s tools are designed to help developers use the Microsoft-designed C# programming language to write applications for mobile devices running on Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS, as well as Windows. A separate product lets developers test how their app will perform in the real world on thousands of different smartphone and tablet models.
Microsoft’s effort to stay relevant to app developers has centered on tools designed to take some of the work out of getting software on multiple devices and operating systems.
As part of its push to increase adoption of Windows 10, Microsoft has pitched a set of tools that lets developers use the same core chunk of code to get their apps on smartphones, PCs, Xboxes and other devices running the operating system. The company also announced plans to help developers easily reorient existing Android or iOS apps for Windows, though that initiative has yet to bear much fruit.
Xamarin’s technology, analysts say, could help jump start both efforts.
Combined with Microsoft’s existing developer tools, Xamarin “provides everything you need to develop, test, deliver and instrument mobile apps for every device,” Guthrie said.
Xamarin, founded in 2011, had raised about $82 million in venture-capital funding from investors, according to CrunchBase.
A spokesman said Microsoft plans to keep the Xamarin team together, including founders Nat Friedman and Miguel de Icaza. The company has about 350 employees.