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1/25/2013
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BlackBerry Comeback: RIM Must Win Developer Support

Against odds, BlackBerry 10 is gaining hype and converting skeptics. To compete, though, it needs to attract developers. Does RIM have the app for that?

The spec sheet likely will also include a slew of accelerometers, gyroscopes and other sensors. These inclusions, although not unique to BlackBerry, could sway some developers' choices, given that the next generation of apps likely will use sensors that persistently monitor ambient conditions. BlackBerry 10 is thus ready not only for the current, touch-centric uses but also many of the cutting-edge ideas on the horizon.

As for the software, the interface is reportedly smooth, with a convenient and well-integrated hub that allows users to view emails, texts and social media activity without exiting whatever app is currently open. Other intriguing features include true multitasking capabilities and an onscreen keyboard that learns which words a user commonly misspells and applies adjustments. BlackBerry Balance, which separates work content from personal content, is noteworthy as well.

None of the software specs are paradigm-shifting the way the iOS initially was, so it remains to be seen if a phone that is merely competitive, rather than revolutionary, can attract large numbers of users and developers. But after all the doom and gloom surrounding RIM in 2012, the upcoming devices warrant optimism.

Sencha CEO Michael Mullany believes that BlackBerry 10's browser, which is expected to run HTML exceptionally well, is another developer draw. His company specialized in HTML5 and is a RIM partner, so his contention might not be surprising -- but with HTML5 steadily encroaching on native mobile apps, it's worth considering.

In an interview, he said that mobile phone users are "fickle" and relatively willing to jump from platform to platform. "HTML5 is a huge hedge for application developers," he said, noting that they can take the same set of skills to whatever platform happens to be popular. He claimed BlackBerry10's browser will offer a "superlative" experience that should do justice to the best work developers concoct. "People will be using HTML5 as a development technology to create apps for all except the most graphically rich multimedia apps," he predicted.

IDC research VP John Jackson, who was involved with the IDC-Appcelerator survey, said in an interview that "there's some merit to the argument" that HTML5 could attract more app builders to BlackBerry 10. "The most immediate thing it will do is open the door to a much, much broader population of developers," he said, although he cautioned that it will be "years" before HTML5 overtakes native apps in significance.

As for RIM's broader chances, Jackson noted the company's efforts to engage developers, concluding it has "had some success." Nevertheless, he said BlackBerry's resurgence will be "an extremely difficult maneuver to pull off." Although the OS has garnered positive buzz, it is being launched "into the teeth of the best Apple, Samsung, and Nokia have to offer," he said.

Even so, he offered that RIM could succeed without dramatically increasing its share of the smartphone market -- and the key could be developer support. "If we're going to look at RIM's success or failure in terms of market share, the news is not gonna be good," he said. Instead, a "reasonable barometer for success would be for the market to start thinking about RIM as a computing platform, not measuring it by product unit volumes."

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FritzNelson
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FritzNelson,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/29/2013 | 12:20:52 AM
re: BlackBerry Comeback: RIM Must Win Developer Support
I don't know if I'd say "in a big way," but I definitely think RIM's going to get a nice bump. They're moving a major revision at a time when the rest of the field is relatively quiet. They're coming out with something that will be on par, in many respects that matter to customers, with the "cool" iOS and Android phones, and like Windows Phone's hubs and live tiles, BlackBerry 10 will provide some innovative user experience features. In other words, I think the market of buyers will give BlackBerry 10 a very close look, and maybe a new heartbeat.
melgross
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melgross,
User Rank: Ninja
1/28/2013 | 11:20:13 PM
re: BlackBerry Comeback: RIM Must Win Developer Support
This isn't true at all. In the US iOS has risen to 51% marketshare, and that's still without T-Mobile, which will be selling the iPhone in three months or so.

Worldwide, it's now up to 25.1% according to one company. This is despite it not being on China Mobile, by far the largest cell carrier, with over 700 million customers, or the largest carrier in Japan (though 2/3rds of the smartphones sold there were iPhones).

There should be little doubt that if Apple does come out with a less expensive phone, as its now being rumored, their sales will grow appreciably.

Also, much of that Android phone growth is attributed to Samsung. But they have not given quarterly sales, or shipment info since the first quarter of 2011, so all of the numbers we see are just guesses, with no hope of verification. That has to be kept in mind.
GAProgrammer
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GAProgrammer,
User Rank: Ninja
1/28/2013 | 8:48:28 PM
re: BlackBerry Comeback: RIM Must Win Developer Support
While that is true, Apple is constantly declining in market share, so the question remains. However, I think the answer is that the iOS market is large enough (even if it is a minority) to justify development.

So many people have left RIM altogether that it's hard to justify development.
RobMark
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RobMark,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/28/2013 | 6:37:32 PM
re: BlackBerry Comeback: RIM Must Win Developer Support
If OS 10 isn't light and day better than the crappy OS 7.1, they have not chance!
RobMark
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RobMark,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/28/2013 | 6:36:42 PM
re: BlackBerry Comeback: RIM Must Win Developer Support
So, awesome I have never heard it had much as far as gaming ever . . .
RobMark
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RobMark,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/28/2013 | 6:35:18 PM
re: BlackBerry Comeback: RIM Must Win Developer Support
14% of sales, not market share. They are two totally different things.
majenkins
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majenkins,
User Rank: Ninja
1/28/2013 | 6:30:46 PM
re: BlackBerry Comeback: RIM Must Win Developer Support
But wait I read the other day that iOS only has like 14% of the market, I haven't veified this, so why are you still developing for it?
Byurcan
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Byurcan,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/28/2013 | 4:07:09 PM
re: BlackBerry Comeback: RIM Must Win Developer Support
RIM is going to come back, in a big way. BB10 will be a huge hit, mark my words. As for attracting developers, as the article states "opinions can change quickly in the tech world," once folks see the adoption of BB10 skyrocket, they will want to build apps for it
InKing
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InKing,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/28/2013 | 3:58:28 PM
re: BlackBerry Comeback: RIM Must Win Developer Support
Very popular games like Bard's Tale (2GB of Code) are easily ported within 24 hours to the BB10 suite. Getting developers to "buy in" is no longer a need as the big developement studios are already on board. BB10 based on QNX runs big game titles very well and the Playbook has had an awesome gaming for two years.
CoryatJohn
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CoryatJohn,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/28/2013 | 2:31:53 PM
re: BlackBerry Comeback: RIM Must Win Developer Support
We've resisted RIM up to this point. The RIM market is too small to justify forking our code. If RIM picks up a hefty percentage, like 20%, we'll take a look. Our efforts are focused on Android and iPhone. We'll go after Amazon and possibly Microsoft before RIM.
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