How Do You Solve A Problem Like BlackBerry

Recently RIM contact developers asking for feedback on why we were or were not planning on developing for Blackberry 10.

I was paid $50 for my opinion - in Amazon vouchers. I hope this hasn't comprimised the honesty of my answers.

These are just my thoughts - I can't claim that they would solve RIM's problems, but I do think they would be a good way to help reclaim developer mindshare.

What are the main reasons why you are not planning to develop applications for the Blackberry 10 platform?

  1. Platform won't be available until 2013!
  2. Probably no Linux platform.
  3. Tiny marketshare unless majority of phones are upgradeable.
  4. Can't get any reference hardware / emulators to test on.
  5. Have to learn yet another development language! I know Java, ObjC, JS, C# - I really can't be bothered to learn another. I tried using JavaScript on the PlayBook and it wasn't a great success.
  6. Finally, and I hate saying this because I've had BB's since the the black and white days, will BB10 ever come out? Will there even be a BlackBerry.

What specific things could the Research in Motion developer relations team do or communicate that would make you more likely to develop applications for the Blackberry 10 platform?

  1. Linux based SDK and toolkit. I'm not buy a Mac or a copy of Windows just for you!
  2. Remove the ridiculous signing requirements. I don't want to have to use your signing server - especially with its atrocious uptime.
  3. Provide high quality, open source programs which we can build on. I don't want to have to start from scratch.
  4. Developer incentives. Microsoft are literally paying some developers to develop. Nokia are giving out hardware. Google already have great mindshare and yet still give out thousands of dollars of goods to devs.
    Reference hardware would be really useful. Paying me market rate for for several weeks development would be nice. Running competitions is a waste of time.
  5. Turn up at hackdays. I attend - and I'm not exaggerating - 100 developer events a year. BlackBerry rarely turn up. When they do, they do a presentation, give hardware out as a prize, and then disappear. They need to stay, teach people, talk through their concerns, offer prizes for software developed specifically for RIM.
  6. Don't offer money. (I realise this contradicts the above!) Most developers can afford a phone, a kindle, or most prizes. Offer us things we can't buy. Promotion in the app store, a meeting with your investors, a UI consultation with your best team, business advice from your CEO! The sort of stuff we can't get elsewhere.
  7. FIGHT THE FUCK BACK! Seriously - no one wants to go invest in a platform which looks like it's losing. I don't know how you do that - but make it convincing!

9 thoughts on “How Do You Solve A Problem Like BlackBerry

  1. I agree with all of the above: RIM are making a very weak case to attract developers.

    The Playbook is cute but reaching the end of it's commercially viable life, at least until some upgrade is released.

    The £198 price-point is good, but who in their right mind would buy a Playbook in preference to an Asus Nexus 7? Who would develop for BB knowing that most users will be commercial (with locked-down units that cannot buy stuff) or trailing-edge late-adopters who have no interest in apps.

    It's just not a winning proposition.

  2. Specific things 8. Get the top N big brand apps from other platforms ported to Blackberry. If the brands are there, developers will see the investment and a possible future, and may have more faith in the platform. Having a playbook without netflix, kindle, spotify etc means it's useless in comparison to the competition, no matter how good the platform. And don't just go after Angry Birds!

  3. says:

    Finally the leaps that Google has made with the Web debugger connection on Chrome. Crikey, that's really hard to compete with. Best of all, Eclipse is not required. YAY.

    If Google pulled the plug on IOS, I am not quite sure IOS could compete with Android when it comes to Web performance / UX and of course, Maps & Youtube et al.

    Google is the one to beat.

  4. says:

    Hi Terence - re availability of development tools that run on Linux: I'm told these can be downloaded from

    Apparently that's a "smart" website that detects the OS you're running on, and shows you tools applicable to that OS - so I see Windows tools when I view it from my Windows laptop, but people who view it from a Linux box will see Linux tools.

  5. Vinceb says:

    It appears that many of your concerns have been addressed by RIM. @blackberrydev just reported a Hackaton in DC July 1st. If your app is a qualified app and pulls in $1000 they will guarantee $10K, many many tools(free) many open source sample programs and tools. They will help port apps. Dev for BB playbook now easy transition to BB10. Don't know of another platform offering as many coding options for creating apps

  6. Georg says:

    You can add to the list: Talk about WHO of the BIG names is on board? I was as BBJam Berlin and i saw a lot of students, and hobby developer. Does someone of the big software companies believe in BB10? No? Only nerds like me? What about Amazon and Skype for example? Even Rovio does not want to port their new game to Playbook. RIM, give me some names.

  7. says:

    Awesome. I am myself Android and Blackberry dev.
    You wrote it well. It contains most of the things that I personally believe.

  8. [...] Blackberry problem:  We know the problems that plague Blackberry and it is going to be extremely difficult to overcome them given the current state of affairs. This article contains a response from one of the developers for a survey conducted by Blackberry. It contains some honest answers to the problems that Blackberry is facing. And while speaking on this topic, Blackberry hits back by saying that the developers are not moving away from the platform. [...]

  9. sigh If only RIM had listened to my advice a decade ago.
    I mean, they'd probably still have gone bust. But it might have delayed the inevitable.

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