BlackBerry 10 Seeing 'Phenomenal' Response From Developers, RIM Insists

RIM continues to defend its position with developers, saying they're thrilled with its BlackBerry 10 platform. On July 19, RIM released two important new tools for those working to be BlackBerry 10-ready.

BlackBerry maker Research In Motion opened a BlackBerry App World Vendor Portal July 19, enabling developers to begin submitting applications for BlackBerry 10 devices. The goal, for now, is to make the apps available to other developers who are likewise tinkering with Dev Alpha test devices and developing for RIM€™s upcoming€”and hopefully business-changing€”platform.

During a not-for-the-faint-of-heart earnings call June 28, RIM announced it was delaying the launch of BB10, which will consist of an entirely new operating system and new devices, until the first quarter of 2013€”a decision that has left RIM executives insisting the company is not in a €œdeath spiral€ and otherwise working overtime to patch up what they insist is not a sinking ship.

Alec Saunders, RIM's vice president of developer relations, apologized to developers for the delay in a June 30 blog post, writing that RIM understands they have "skin in the game" and "rent to pay."

On the same day as the new Vendor Portal, RIM released a free update to the BlackBerry 10 toolkit it first offered to developers at its BlackBerry World event in Orlando, Fla., in May. Most notably, the new toolkit features two key sets of APIs€”an application invocation framework that will allow BB10 apps to interact with each other, and Push APIs that enable developers to send notifications and other content to BB10 devices.

So far, developers€™ response to BB10 has been €œabsolutely phenomenal,€ Martyn Mallick, RIM vice president of global alliances and business development, told eWEEK during a July 19 interview.

Now, midway through its BlackBerry 10 Jam World Tour€”a 23-city event designed to bring a better understanding of RIM€™s now-twice-delayed new platform to developers around the globe€”the company has found itself defending not only BB10 but the allegiance of its developers, a group that can make or break the success of an ecosystem. Before Google and Apple held their developer conferences in June, analytics firm Flurry described the very critical need for OS makers to woo this workforce that €œcan largely impact the fate of some of the most prolific, innovative forces in the world€™s economy today.€

While RIM has, of late, been in damage-repair mode, this particular defense was prompted by a July 13 report from All Things D. Citing a Baird Equity Research survey on developer sentiment, the site wrote that RIM is €œbleeding developers.€ According to the survey, devs€™ sentiment toward BB10 fell from 4.6 during the first quarter to 3.8 during the second, while their feelings toward BlackBerry 7 declined to 2.8 from 3.8. Sentiments toward Apple€™s iOS and Google€™s Android, meanwhile, hovered around the 9.0 mark during both quarters.

The report stood out, and warranted a response post on the BlackBerry blog from Saunders, said Mallick, because it ran contrary to the positive feedback and €œquite astonishing€ growth that RIM has been seeing.

€œWe€™ve seen just really strong growth from a vendor perspective, coming into the platform; we€™ve seen really strong growth from the different applications being submitted on the platform; we€™re seeing strong growth from monetization€”just all of the indicators that we look at to measure the performance of the platform €¦ are really, really strong,€ said Mallick.

Mallick added, €œWe grew by over 200 percent in the first quarter alone€”we€™ve had over 25,000 applications submitted to that platform.€

The feedback from the World Tour has likewise been €œincredibly positive,€ said Mallick. One of the most satisfying things, he said, was how quickly developers were able to adopt the tools and produce a product€”within days of the event, developers have been emailing the RIM team, asking for ways to share their newly created apps with other devs, for feedback. In one instance, a developer showed off an app he€™d built that day.

€œThat€™s just incredibly exciting for us, because when we looked at BlackBerry 10, we made a very deliberate decision to make it a developer device, one that€™s extremely friendly for app developers to build amazing applications with, to have phenomenal user experiences with,€ said Mallick.

A pleased developer community, while essential, is only part of the equation. What message does RIM have for the enterprise customers holding out€”or debating whether to€”for BB10?

The new platform, said Mallick, is going to marry all the €œcore tenants of an enterprise-grade solution€”security, the reliability, manageability€ with multimedia applications and more €œgaming-type things,€ to keep users happy in and out of the office.

€œFrom an enterprise developer perspective,€ Mallick added, €œthe message is: Hey, go grab the tools. They€™re in great shape. People are building applications really quickly. Grab those tools, take a look at them, start playing around, and get your enterprise applications up and ready to be prepared for the launch of BlackBerry 10.€

Follow Michelle Maisto on Twitter.