With Research In Motion's BlackBerry 10 launch less than three weeks away, developers have submitted more than 15,000 new BB10 applications—and in record time.
RIM kicked off its 36-hour Port-A-Thon Jan. 11 that encouraged and incentivized developers to submit their work. Each submitted and approved application (up to 20 apps) came with a $100 reward. To the first 200 qualified developers who submitted between five and 10 approved apps, RIM gifted a BlackBerry 10 Dev Alpha device. Those who submitted more than 10 approved apps became qualified to win a paid trip to BlackBerry Jam Europe, in Amsterdam, to celebrate the launch of BlackBerry 10.
"Log in from the comfort of your home, from your desk at work, or even get friends together and have a porting party," RIM encouraged, ahead of the event, which included expert assistance throughout the 36-hour stretch.
The tactic worked.
Alec Saunders, RIM's vice president of developer relations, Tweeted Jan. 13, "Well there you have it. 37.5 hours in, we hit 15,000 apps for this portathon. Feel like I've run a marathon. Thanks to all the devs!"
In December, RIM released the "gold" build of its BlackBerry 10 software development kit (SDK) to developers. The kit includes the final tools, components and application programming interfaces (APIs) that developers need to create integrated apps for BlackBerry 10.
"We have been actively engaged with developers from around the world for many months, and as we near the final weeks toward the launch of BlackBerry 10, the growing dedication and commitment we see from our developer community is truly outstanding," Saunders said in a Dec. 14, 2012, statement. "The focus we have had on building a true developer ecosystem and community is clearly working."
Developer support is critical to the success of RIM's twice-delayed platform, and the company has worked relentlessly to keep developers from defecting.
After RIM's June 2012 announcement that it was again delaying the release of the platform and smartphones that by all accounts would save the sinking company—Jan. 30 is the new promised launch date—Saunders apologized to developers and doubled down on his efforts to convince them that RIM appreciated their efforts and understood what was at stake for them.
"You've got businesses to run, rent to pay and investors to answer to. You are the folks who have skin in the game now and aren't just waiting for a new phone personally," Saunders blogged June 30. "We know this delay affects you, and we're sorry."
RIM spent much of the spring and summer hosting a BlackBerry 10 Jam world tour, during which it built relationships with developers, fostered ideas and answered questions.
In September, it announced a redesign of its app store and introduced a 10k Developer Commitment, meant to prove to developers that backing the platform is financially worth their while. By the terms of the deal, a developer needs to create a BlackBerry 10 app and have it approved by Jan. 21. If in 12 months time the app earns more than $1,000 but less than $10,000, RIM will make up the difference between the amount earned and $10,000.
"We are convinced this platform will shape the next 10 years as profoundly and as positively as BlackBerry shaped the last decade," RIM CEO Thorsten Heins said during a Sept. 25 keynote address, kicking off the American leg of the BlackBerry Jam tour. "To do that, we are listening. We are focused. We are excited about our future."