BlackBerry Partners Portal Is Latest RIM Effort to Push Forward

The RIM BlackBerry Partners portal offers vendors, developers and others a new way to connect and stay informed through the final slog to BB10's release.

Research In Motion, as it pushes through the final months until the Jan. 30 release of its long-awaited BlackBerry 10 platform, is rightly doing all it can to build its brand, build excitement, and prevent anyone or any company that's already on board from jumping ship—whether from frustration, impatience or device envy.

RIM's most recent effort is the launch of a BlackBerry Partners for Enterprise portal. A succession of RIM's existing BlackBerry Alliance Program, and free to members, it offers software vendors, system integrations, application hosts, professional service organizations and corporate developers access to prereleases of hardware and software, self-serve technical and commercial resources and a way to communicate with others in the RIM ecosystem.

"We've been listening to our enterprise partners and we're fully committed to ensuring they have the application-development resources they need to develop for BlackBerry 10," Derek Peper, RIM's vice president of enterprise partnerships, said in a Nov. 15 statement.

"We also want to provide them with a forum where they can share ideas, solutions and information, not only with us but among themselves," Peper added. "They have a tremendous understanding of their customers' needs and the creative solution to support them."

In June, RIM delayed the release of BlackBerry 10 for a second time, citing the enormity of creating an entirely new platform. After weeks of speculation that RIM's promise of a "first quarter 2013" release meant March—a timeframe that seemed to push to the limits on a wait that some analysts believe is already more than most RIM users can bear—on Nov. 12 RIM pinpointed Jan. 30 as BB10's release date.

RIM may been nudged to release the date by widely circulated comments from a Nov. 7 research note by Pacific Crest Securities analyst James Faucette.

"We believe BB10 is likely to be [dead on arrival]," Faucette told investors. "We expect the new OS to be met with a lukewarm response at best and ultimately likely to fail."

On Nov. 1, RIM announced that its BB10 smartphones were undergoing lab trials with 50 carriers—news likely meant to suggest the waiting was coming to a close, though analysis firms took the news to mean a March launch was increasingly likely.

RIM has had a difficult time keeping even customers in regulated industries from opening their doors to competing devices—in recent weeks both the Pentagon and the government consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton were reported to no longer be exclusively loyal to RIM. It can't be much easier keeping developers and others with "skin in the game," as Alec Saunders, RIM's vice president of developer relations phrased it in a June 30 blog post, sticking with BlackBerry.

If BlackBerry Partners is one carrot to keep developers and other partners moving forward, on Nov. 14 RIM shared another—an announcement of the Dec. 11 release of a "gold version of the BlackBerry 10 SDK," which will enable developers to complete the "final testing and tweaking" of their apps.

Jan. 21 is the final deadline for apps to be submitted to the BlackBerry App World storefront for RIM's 10k Developer Commitment—yet another carrot, essentially guaranteeing developers $10,000 in revenue for an app in its first year. And then it's just a tap, click and a download from Jan. 30—a finish line that will be just as much a starting line for RIM to begin making good on its months of promises.