Category Archives: BlackBerry10

RIM needs to remain wary of wireless carriers

Occasionally in interviews, executives at RIM have mentioned how excited that wireless carriers are about BlackBerry10. However, this has me more worried than excited, because the carriers have not always had RIM’s best interest at heart.

For example, there are reports that the carriers are actually happy that BlackBerry10 has been delayed to Q1 2013. This is probably true. A Q1 release of BlackBerry10 gives the carriers something new to push in a quarter when they typically won’t have much else new on their shelves. It allows the carriers to hedge their bets on BlackBerry10 by promoting it during a more low key part of the year as opposed to the busy Christmas season. But just because it is good for the carriers does not imply that the delay is also good for RIM. Of course in this case, the delay may be good for RIM, by giving them the time needed for a solid launch, but it better not be done for the carrier’s sake.

In the past the carriers have been a problem for RIM. By depending upon the carriers to approve OS updates, RIM could not update devices in a timely manner (especially compared to Apple). Caving to requests from Verizon also led RIM to release the Storm and Tour without wi-fi. A few to many deals with the carriers also lead to RIM never offering a touch screen BlackBerry on more than one US carrier at a time until less then a year ago. (And RIM wonders why they have so little of the touchscreen market in the US).

For the rollout of BlackBerry10, RIM needs to remove the carriers from OS upgrades. RIM needs to keep the devices clear of the shovelware that plagues Android. RIM needs to launch across all carriers within the same month. While the wireless carriers are important retail channels, they are actively working against RIM whenever they try to be more then dumb pipes. Caving to the carriers would put RIM at a disadvantage to Apple and Microsoft.

The doldrums of BlackBerry development

The next few months are going to be a tough time to be a BlackBerry developer. With the traditional BlackBerry OS being phased out, and BlackBerry 10 not yet available, developers are stuck in a middle ground without any clear path.

App developers are dependent upon the long tail of sales in order to make a living from creating apps. Sales of an app within the first month are insignificant when compared to sales over a year or two. While this can be discouraging to new developers it is actually a source of comfort to developers with a few apps already up for sale as it can lead to a bit of steady income. Over three years after its release, I know that I can count on Pixelated to continue to generate some sales.

The problem, of course, is that the current BlackBerry OS no longer has much of a long tail. It has already been almost a year since RIM has released any new and interesting hardware, and RIM will not be releasing a single new device that is capable of running applications built for the current BlackBerry OS. Without much of a real possibility of continuing sales over the next few years it is hard to commit the time to a significant new BlackBerry project at this time.

The future is BlackBerry 10. But without any BB10 devices presently up for sale, and with the marketshare of BB10 phones at 0.0% for at least the next six months there is currently no opportunity to sell apps on BB10 either. While there is a benefit to being ready to go for the launch of the platform, there will be plenty of time to do so in the future (and at this point, little reason to jump in before the tools are gold). Because while app development is all about the long tail, you can’t justify doing work now that you won’t get the opportunity to be paid for in the next year.

This gap between the two platforms (which was made worse by the delay in the launch of BlackBerry 10) is leaving BlackBerry developers in a bit of a doldrums over the next few months.

So what options do devs have? There are some environments such as WebWorks and ActionScript that support both BlackBerry 10 and the current PlayBook, but the next few months are also going to provide an opportunity to spend time on updating current apps, and expanding to more platforms.

(And of course, despite everything I said above, my PlayBook game, Runaway Trains will be released for touchscreen BlackBerry phones within the next week or two.)

What wasn’t seen at BlackBerry World

Much has already been written about what was said at BlackBerry World and BlackBerry 10 Jam. (The most interesting probably being this article done by Forbes). But I think that it is even more interesting to look at what didn’t happen during this week.

Android was nowhere to be seen

Most attendees at BlackBerry World were using a BlackBerry Bold (about 80% of the crowd). Another 10% were using a BlackBerry Torch, and the remaining 10% were using iPhones. I really don’t think that I saw a single Android device during the entire event. What is more is that despite the announcement that BB10 would allow Android apps to run in their own windows, nobody seemed all that interested in writing Android apps, with the attention being placed on Cascades and HTML5/bbui.js instead.

Nobody was complaining about the lack of support for BBOS java apps

At BlackBerry DevCon this last fall you could not go anywhere without running into someone complaining about the lack of support for BlackBerry Java apps on the platform. While it wasn’t the slightest bit of a surprise to those of us paying attention, it was a very annoying to have to hear about it again and again. Fortunately, those people have finally gotten over themselves. Perhaps is was due to seeing how non-native the Android apps looked and acted, or by seeing how easy Cascades was to work with, but I didn’t run into anyone still bemoaning the point.

Dan Dodge wasn’t there

Despite his recent promotion, nobody seems to have seen Dan Dodge at the event. He has always preferred to be a behind the scenes type of guy, but in retrospect it was a bit weird that he wasn’t in Orlando. So John Pinkerton tells me that Dan Dodge was at the event. Still interesting that he was at BlackBerry World, rather then on the tech side of things.

There was a lack of media at BB10Jam

It was surprising to see how much most of the media just shrugged its shoulders in regards to BB10Jam and made little to no attempt to cover it. In the article mentioned at the top of the post, Brian Caulfield wrote about how he “sneaked” in. But even from the blogs there was very little coverage. The bloggers that are typically at these types of events were only seen at the joint party at Universal Studios.

In conclusion

Are any of these points really that significant? Probably not. Still, this is my way of reporting on what happened this past week in Orlando without pointlessly rehashing what everyone else has already written.

Presenting today at #BB10Jam

For those planning their schedules today at BlackBerry 10 Jam, I would like to remind you that my session is this afternoon at 4:45 in the BC Salon XI room. The title of the talk is “COM102 – Supporting your App after release”, but it will include a complete look at what it takes to succeed as a BlackBerry developer. Come and find out what was lead to success in the past, and what you need to do in order to find success in the future with BlackBerry10.