RIM: There is No Better Time – Carpe Diem Devs

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Guest contributed article by Alec Saunders, VP, Developer Relations & Ecosystems, Research In Motion

We recently announced a partnership with Appcelerator that includes Titanium support for our upcoming BlackBerry 10 platform, as well as an opportunity for developers to receive BlackBerry 10 Dev Alpha, and Appcelerator Cloud Services (ACS) for free. How do you take advantage of this offer? Simple. Build a BlackBerry 10 app.

I don’t build BlackBerry 10 apps, you say. I say, Why not? There’s never been a better time for a developer who wants commercial success for their apps.

And yes, I’ve heard it all before – that BlackBerry is a dinosaur, that it’s hard to develop for, that people aren’t using BlackBerry smartphones, that there are no apps on BlackBerry. It’s not easy to admit this, but there are elements of truth to these statements… or there were.

It is truly amazing the difference that a year can make.

I took over the reins of the BlackBerry Developer Relations team just over a year ago. At that time, my new team had a meeting to talk about where the developer ecosystem on BlackBerry needed to go. This team was chomping at the bit to start changing the world of BlackBerry development.

And we have. Make no mistake – this is not the BlackBerry platform of two years ago. We had our own list of must-dos to save this platform, but we went to developers and asked them what they needed to get building, and, more importantly, what would entice them to a platform.

We started building out partnerships with open source leaders. We placed our WebWorks and Ripple Emulator platforms on GitHub. We embraced a new native development platform. Gone are the days of native development for BlackBerry in Java. We are now a C/C++ native environment on both BlackBerry PlayBook today, and BlackBerry 10 when it launches in January, 2013.

We partnered with gaming frameworks to help developers port games and content quickly, including Marmalade and Unity. We even opened BlackBerry PlayBook and BlackBerry 10 to Android developers with our Android Runtime and developer tools, so developers could port Android apps in minutes.

When we asked developers what they wanted, they told us a market opportunity – at last count in September, we had 80 million customers downloading almost 180 million apps each month. We have a brand new platform launching that brings a first-to-market advantage that is unrivalled in this crowded app marketplace.

Developers said they wanted hardware to test – we shipped testing devices so they could start building their BlackBerry 10 apps months ahead of launch. They asked for road map information on our tools – we launched arrival boards that show status and timing of tools, and even drill down to API-level information.

Developers told us that they wanted to start making money – regularly. We support carrier billing with over 50 carrier partners in our application store, BlackBerry World. BlackBerry developers make more than 40% more than Android developers per app per month, according to Vision Mobile’s Developer economics Study, 2012.

We are uber confident that developers will make money on BlackBerry 10. So confident, in fact, that we have introduced a 10k commitment to developers. If you build an approved BlackBerry 10 application, you could qualify for a bump up on your app revenue to $10,000. Conditions do apply.

So, we are partnering with Appcelerator to not only have support for BlackBerry 10 by a platform you already know and trust, but also to provide cost-saving incentives to develop for BlackBerry 10. We are committed to developer success and will put our money where our mouth is to the tune of $10,000. We have formed partnerships to allow for simpler porting. We support open source in a way I would argue outshines all our competitors. We have tools and frameworks for C/C++, HTML5, Adobe AIR and Android. And we have fans and loyal customers clamoring for information about our upcoming launch of BlackBerry 10.

When you do not give an opportunity like this a try, you sell your own business short. I guarantee this is a different BlackBerry and a different ecosystem. Follow me at @asaunders. Let’s start this conversation.

1 COMMENT

  1. RIM has already burned the bridge with most mobile developers.

    I was one of those a year or two ago that purchased the Appcelerator Indie subscription so that I could get access to the Blackberry beta. It was unusable, even the kitchen sink bb app had tons of bugs. On top of that, you had to pay for each submission to the app store, which is just a slap in the face.

    Sorry but I have no desire to give deadberry another try, Appcelerator’s resources would be better spent bringing Android up to par with iOS and improving the usability of Titanium Studio. I sure hope that this “alliance” doesn’t lead to RIM buying Appcelerator.

  2. @Justin Toth

    I would suggest you re-read Alec’s last statement, Take from it what you will.

    Your statement is full of “was”, “were”, “had”. You should listen to the “is”, “are” and “have’s” that RIM is trying to communicate

    Port your Android app, it can be done in a few hours. If it’s a ddecent app, people WILL download it and you then have another revenue stream, for a few hours “work”…Unless developing “free” apps is your thing, then nevermind. BB users prefer no adds and their credit card statements speak truths.

    “When you do not give an opportunity like this a try, you sell your own business short. I guarantee this is a different BlackBerry and a different ecosystem. Follow me at @asaunders. Let’s start this conversation.”

  3. @Justin Thank you for response and giving your honest feedback. The current BB10 platform is significantly different then the previous BlackBerry Beta release. For starters although developer’s program to the JavaScript Titanium SDK the OS (operating system) is C/C++ vs the older Java OS. BB10 is derived from the well respected QNX RTOS (real time operating system). Many of the UI controls are hardware accelerated through the Cascades UI engine. For platform engineers this means the technology we use to provide the Titanium BlackBerry platform is much more capable, and will translate to a stable high performance platform. Unlike the previous BB platform we are working closely with RIM engineers to ensure the platforms success.

    We have even open sourced the platform even at the early development phase to start getting feedback on application development as well as engaging outside platform developers to assist in building out the platform – https://github.com/appcelerator/titanium_mobile_blackberry. This gives application developers full transparency into the state of the platform.

    Alec Saunders and his team at RIM are committed to getting the App Store filled with quality apps. For example signing is now free.

    Although iPhone and Android are competing platform there are markets and eco-systems where BlackBerries still rule often in areas of security and large corporate IT groups. I recently attended BBJam Asia in Bangkok, Thailand and the conference was well attended and BB devices are still very popular here.

    The BB platform is still in it’s early stages but already 3 of our Titan’s showed off apps at BBJam.

  4. Bob’s Yer Uncle – If you seriously think that a Ti app can be ported to BB in a few hours then you haven’t developed in Titanium before. Those more experienced know that a lot of painful time is spent making an app work on both iOS and Android, there are a lot of API calls that don’t work on one platform or behave differently on each, and mainly Android doesn’t work as well as iOS without a lot of tweaks. To think that an immature BB project would take less time to port than iOS -> Android is unrealistic.

    “Your statement is full of “was”, “were”, “had”. You should listen to the “is”, “are” and “have’s” that RIM is trying to communicate” <– When a troublesome old girlfriend comes calling again, the best advice is to run the other way rather than crawl back to them, because most people (and companies) don't change.

    However best of luck to Gregory and the RIM team in their attempt to make it more appealing to developers.

  5. Looking for the link to the updated Titanium documentation detailing the port process…. nope not here…. maybe other BB titanium documentation… nope thats not here either… oh well.

    Like many other Ti devs, i looked at blackberry previously but it was;-
    1) Windows only
    2) Very poorly supported in terms of equivalent APIs
    3) More fragmented than Android is fast becoming.

    When corporations are switching to Smart Phones ( as yahoo CEO described non BB smart devices), it seems like going back for another slap in the face.

    Good luck to you guys that want to take a chance, but i would like to see Windows phone support, but Titanium has confirmed that will not come until its not a commercial advantage anymore.

    Sadly, i was very enthusiastic about Titanium a couple of years ago, but progress is just too slow when it comes to basic things and endless promises of better, one day and isn’t this going to be great have dulled this to the point that Titanium is just another platform in a developers tools and one should not tie themselves to one vendor.

    Jez