Rapid adoption of PlayBook OS 2.0

After looking at past adoption rates on the PlayBook, it would be expected that the uptake of OS 2.0 on the device would be pretty fast, especially given that this was a major version number update. This turned out to be the case, and even more impressive then I expected.

The chart below shows PlayBook OS versions on February 22nd based on downloads of the game Pixelated.

PlayBook OS 2.0 was released on February 21st. Over 89% of users had already upgraded by February 22nd. By the end of March, I would expect over 99% of users to be running the new operating system.

On the old BlackBerry OS, it took 23 months for 89% of users to be running OS 5.0 (or higher), yet the PlayBook was able to hit this percentage less then 23 hours. So far the BBX operating system is showing itself to be thankfully free from any OS fragmentation issues.

Binary Clock updated

The Binary Clock application has been updated to version 2.1 in BlackBerry AppWorld. This update adds the option to place the clock in a 12 hour mode instead of the default 24 hour mode. You can also now turn off the screen while the phone is charging, by using the lock screen button. To be able to set the clock to display while the phone is charging you will need to make a $0.99 in-app purchase.

How to read

A binary coded decimal can be read with each column added up with each light worth (from top to bottom) 8, 4, 2, and 1, and the column on the left being worth 40, 20, and 10. This is done with each set, which (from left to right) are for hours, minutes, and seconds. For example, the clock to the right shows a time of 4 hours, 22 minutes, and 37 seconds. For more information on reading Binary Coded Decimals see Wikipedia.

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Update to Call-A-Human app

The Call-A-Human application has been updated to version 1.4 in BlackBerry AppWorld. This new version includes some updated listings as well as more polished options and about pages.

About the Call-A-Human app

The Call-A-Human application allows you to easily call straight to a customer service person at hundreds of companies without having to go through the hassle of going through a phone tree. The application includes a built in search field, and also integrates with universal search so you can just start typing the company name into your BlackBerry without even having to launch the application.

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The Media really does hate RIM

I have always been skeptical about the argument that the media intrinsically has it out for RIM, yet when OS 2.0 was released this past Tuesday I couldn’t help but notice the lack of coverage that the release received. Yet whenever there is a reason to criticise RIM there is never such a lack of coverage.

I understand that not every tech blog can cover everything. I realize that in the wide world of tech the release of this update may not be huge news. I never expected it to get covered absolutely everywhere. I did expect the story to get more coverage then something as trivial as RIM including a drawing of superheros on a blog post.

Apparently I was wrong.

With very little effort, it was shockingly easy to find many sources that gave more coverage (as measured by word count) to RIM’s superhero image, then to the release of their newest operating system.

Superheros PlayBook 2.0
Engadget 156 107
The Loop 18 12
Computer World 478 0
Daring Fireball 24 0
PC Magazine 681 425

If you don’t have anything mean to say, don’t say anything at all.

Scoble and Saunders are speaking different languages

This past weekend Robert Scoble posted on why he was pessimistic about the future of RIM, and was followed by a responce by Alec Saunders. However it is unlikely that the two of them are going to come to much of an agreement, because they are talking about two totally separate things.

Saunders’ response is about the many cross-platform development opportunities that BlackBerry provides. RIM has been pushing this approach for a while now with the PlayBook taking the approach that it should support as many development platforms as possible (similar to desktop Windows). Why should developers support BlackBerry? Anyone who has seen one of Alec’s presentations knows that he always emphasizes the ability for developers to make money on the platform. Stats about how the total amount of money spent in BlackBerry AppWorld is more then is spent in Android Market.

But to many in Silicon Valley (such as Scoble), this does not matter.

For the many venture backed start ups in silicon valley the goal is not to make money. The goal is not to increase revenue and make a profit. The goal instead is to find a company willing to spend money to buy them out. The goal is to find more wealthy backers willing to invest a few million in the hopes that it can later be sold for more. The ability to actually make money on a platform could not matter less.

Look back at Scoble’s original post. In it he says that “I just don’t see how most of the world’s “pro” development shops (I.E. the ones that are venture backed) will support more than Android and iOS.” Note the wording here. He doesn’t consider developers like myself to be professionals.

Yet I would argue that we are actually the ones going about and working to create serious businesses. And (with some exceptions) we are the ones that are most likely to support BlackBerry. For example EA, has never hesitated to support BlackBerry. This is not because it makes EA look good, and not because it allows them to put out a press release, but because it makes them money. EA isn’t running around town looking for investors or trying to find a buyer, instead they are simply trying their best to sell games for a profit.

For those companies that exist solely for the purpose of raising (and spending) another round maybe it is best to just support Android and iOS. Their only true customers are the managers at the venture funds. If your revenue only requires you to give a demo, supporting a single device is good enough. And many in Silicon valley have phones running Android or iOS. Yet like BlackBerry’s popularity in Canada, or Nokia’s dominance in Finland, the fact that Android and iOS are more common then average in the communities that surround Mountain View and Cupertino should be neither surprising nor meaningful.

So as long as Saunders and Scoble are talking about two different things it is unlikely that they are going to see eye to eye on the issue. So maybe RIM is not that relevant in the nonsense of Silicon Valley venture capital games. Who cares? For the most part these venture backed companies do not matter in the larger world at all. It would be (in all honesty) a waste of time for RIM to care what these “companies” think.

But for those of us who see our customers as the people who buy our apps and games, for those of us who actually care about growing a business, for those of to who more customers means more revenue instead of just more expenses, it would be silly not to support the millions of BlackBerry users.

Xploding Boxes after one year

Xploding Boxes was released a year ago for BlackBerry phones with 100 levels. Since then support has been extended for the BlackBerry PlayBook, and the Barnes & Noble Nook, and the game itself has expanded to 270 levels.

Even more impressive, is that Xploding Boxes has sold more copies in its first year then any other of my games including Pixelated Plus which has been on the market for almost three years.

About Xploding Boxes

Xploding Boxes is a strategy game for BlackBerry and Nook, where the goal of the game is to start a chain reaction that will explode all of the boxes on the screen. Each level gives you a different number of touches, and requires a different strategy to solve. The first 25 levels are free, while the full 270 levels can be accessed by making an in-application payment and requiring no further downloads. This game is available for the PlayBook, most smartphones running OS 5.0 or higher, and the Nook Color and Nook Tablet.

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Xploding Boxes updated

Xploding Boxes has been updated in BlackBerry AppWorld, and the Nook Bookstore to version 3.1. This update adds 10 additional levels, and improves the support for devices running OS 7.1.

About Xploding Boxes

Xploding Boxes is a strategy game for BlackBerry and Nook, where the goal of the game is to start a chain reaction that will explode all of the boxes on the screen. Each level gives you a different number of touches, and requires a different strategy to solve. The first 25 levels are free, while the full 270 levels can be accessed by making an in-application payment and requiring no further downloads. This game is available for the PlayBook, most smartphones running OS 5.0 or higher, and the Nook Color and Nook Tablet.

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Rapid adoption of OS updates on the PlayBook

The above chart shows the adoption of each version of the BlackBerry PlayBook each month as seen from downloads of the game Pixelated. Unlike the slow OS adoption on BlackBerry smartphones, the graph shows much steeper slopes for adoption of each new OS version for the PlayBook.

January saw an amazing 99.1% of users running OS 1.0.8 (or higher). These numbers should give us a feel for the adoption of OS 2.0 when it is released later this month. In short there will be no reason to support anything earlier then OS 2.0 pretty much as soon as it is released.

This data was taken from downloads of the popular PlayBook strategy game Pixelated. Data shown on the chart is from the beginning of June 2011 through the end of January 2012.

Some growth in newer OS versions

For the first time in a few months there has been some meaningful movement in this graph. The use of OS 7 is up to 13.9% while use of OS 6 has also improved after being flat since last October.

The percentage of users on OS 5.0 or higher has increased by more then two percent and is now up to 94.5% of all devices. Last January only 79.6% of users were running an OS at 5.0 or higher. With the percentage of active users on 4.x dwindling the recent update to the Binary Clock app only supported OS 5.0 and higher, and many other apps will probably be taking that approach in the near future as well.

This data was taken from downloads of the popular BlackBerry strategy game Pixelated. Data shown on the chart is from the beginning of January 2011 through the end of January 2012.

Liar’s Dice updated

The Liar’s Dice game has been updated to version 1.4 in BlackBerry AppWorld. New in this version is the ability for games to persist over playing sessions. You can now exit the app at any time during the game, and simply resume play when you start the app again. Other changes were made to improve the the efficiency of the app, and the look of the menus.

About Liar’s Dice

This is a classic dice game of strategy and deception in which seeing only your own dice you must bet on the combined dice in play without getting caught in a lie.

The object of the game is to catch your opponent (the computer) betting too high. Bets are placed on both your own dice which you can see, and your opponent’s dice which are hidden from you. You begin each round by making a bet. The computer then has an opportunity to either call your bet a lie, or to bet higher then you. Then it is once again your turn to call your opponent’s bet or to bet even higher. This continues until eventually a bet is called. Then if the bet is too high the caller wins, or if the bet is not a lie, the bettor wins the round.

The game has two main game modes. The “High Score” mode is the default mode, points are awarded for each round, and the first to gain a given number of points wins. The amount of points that the game plays to can be selected from the options page, allowing for shorter or longer games.

The second game mode is an “Elimination” mode in which the loser of each round loses one dice for the following rounds, and the last player with any dice left is the winner. This game is more dynamic as there are a different number of dice in play each round. Additionally these games in this mode typically play faster than high score games.

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PlayBook and HDMI

Although I have had my BlackBerry PlayBook for almost a year now, I only recently got around to buying a micro HDMI cable so I could hook it up to a television. Long story short, it is a lot of fun (and will be even more useful once we get the Bridge remote later this month).

On Twitter Jeff Bacon mentioned that it should just be included in the box, and he is totally right. I bought the cable online for $2.99 including shipping. Once your remove the extra shipping costs, the (surprisingly large) amount of packaging, and buy it in quantities somewhat larger then one, you could probably assume that RIM could package this with the PlayBook for less then a dollar.

Why would RIM want to do this? Well, because it is a pretty cool feature and adds a lot of out-of-the-box functionality. Also because it is something that neither the iPad nor the Amazon Fire can do. Once OS 2.0 and the Bridge remote is available, this will be even more cool.

If it takes an enthusiast like myself nine months to get around to picking up a cable, you can assume that most costumers probably never will, even if it only takes one use ever for this $3 purchase to pay for itself. At the very least it is more useful then the micro USB cable that is included. I already have plenty of USB cables, and never plug my PlayBook into my computer anyhow.

Until RIM starts including it, I recommend that everyone with a PlayBook to spend the few dollars and buy a cable. It is well worth it.