RIM Hosts One Last App Fest Ahead of BlackBerry 10

RIM's pack-the-app-store party last Friday went so well that it's doing it again, starting noon Jan. 18, with $2 million in incentive prizes. 

BlackBerry maker Research In Motion continues to beat its drum, rallying interest ahead of the Jan. 30 launch of its long-awaited BlackBerry 10 platform. Developer interest and support is no small part of that and after a successful developer pajama party of sorts last Friday, RIM is at it again.

Starting at noon EST Friday, Jan. 18, RIM is kicking off another 36-hour Port-A-Thon, complete with $2 million set aside for incentives.

Developers are encouraged to log on from home or work, alone or with friends, and to develop and submit apps for a harried day and a half. During that time, they can earn $100 per submitted app that's approved (up to 20 apps), and after submitting five apps, be entered into a drawing to win one of 250 Limited Edition BlackBerry 10 Dev Alpha devices.

"You can build/port apps using any one of the development languages that supports BlackBerry 10. Port from Android, use HTML5, Native C/C++, AIR, jQuery, Marmalade, Qt, PhoneGap, Appcelerator, Sencha and more," Lou Gazzola, manager of applications platform marketing at RIM, wrote in a Jan. 16 blog post.

The Port-a-Thons, like RIM's 10k Developer Commitment, he added, "are just part of our dedication to our developers and apps for our new BlackBerry 10 platform."

The 10k Commitment promises that if a developer submits an app by Jan. 21 and it's approved, and in a year's time it earns more than $1,000 but less than $10,000, RIM will make up the difference between the amount earned and $10,000.

RIM's Jan. 11 Port-A-Thon resulted in 15,000 new apps in 37.5 hours. "Feel like I've run a marathon," Tweeted Alec Saunders, RIM's vice president of developer relations, whose job it has been to keep developers from defecting during the very long wait for BlackBerry 10's release.

After promising a late 2012 launch, during a June 2012 earnings call RIM, for a second time, pushed its deadline, this time to early 2013. CEO Thorsten Heins insisted that the company could rush to meet the earlier date, but that BlackBerry 10 needs to be perfect and so RIM was taking the time necessary to get it exactly right.

What RIM intended as an assurance of quality many heard to be a death knell, and Heins and his team spent the ensuing months insisting that RIM was not at "death's door," as at least one blunt interviewer put it.

Heins admits that RIM continues to consider all its options, which include selling portions of its business or licensing services. But RIM is very unlikely to act on any of these until it sees the consumer response to BlackBerry 10. In the best possible scenario, the new platform will delight current BlackBerry users, and will bring former BlackBerry users running back to RIM and iPhone and Galaxy owners dropping their phones and reaching for a BlackBerry 10 instead.

Heins insists he's thrilled with the product. RIM will introduce two new smartphones, one with a dedicated QWERTY keyboard and one without.

Heins asserts that RIM's once-dejected workforce is now electric with excitement. "I'd describe the excitement as employees are wearing a badge of honor right now," Heins said during RIM's Dec. 20 earnings call. "It's a great time to be with BlackBerry."

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