1. r.speziale's Avatar
    Research In Motion to improve app strategy

    (CBC News) - Theres no two ways about it 2011 was a bad year for BlackBerry maker Research In Motion. With sliding market share and stock price, product delays and outages, the Waterloo, Ont.-based company Canadas most important technology firm took heat from investors, media and customers alike.

    RIM is hoping 2012 turns out better. At the Consumer Electronics Show, the company announced the long-awaited update to its PlayBook tablet, which will enable features such as email and calendar to run on the device itself without having to connect to a BlackBerry phone.

    The update is coming in February, or 10 months after the PlayBook was first released.

    The company is now focusing on getting developers to build software the all-important apps for the PlayBook and its upcoming BlackBerry 10 phones, which it has promised for the second half of 2012.

    Alec Saunders, vice-president of developer relations, sat down with CBC News at CES to discuss its app strategy for 2012.

    CBC News: We cant really start talking without addressing 2011, which was not a good year for RIM.

    Saunders: Without sounding like a Pollyanna, a lot of the time people get the story wrong. 2011 was the year where we added 25 million customers, we continued to be profitable, we dont have any debt on the books. Lets not paint the picture that the company is another Nortel, because it just isnt in that situation, and app developers need to know that. A lot of people look at us and say, Should I build applications for RIM? Yeah, you should; theres 75 million customers you can target. This is not a company that is in a situation where were not going to be here next week. We are, were going to be here for a very long time.

    Q: There have been criticisms that developing apps for RIM is difficult. How much of that is warranted, and how much of it is overblown?

    A: Speaking as a former RIM application developer, because thats what I did in my last life, we have made it somewhat difficult for developers, but were addressing those issues.
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    The ongoing Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas shows off the best in technology for the home, office and yes, ski hill. Here, showgoers check out a pair of Recon ski goggles, which contain a small screen displaying a map of your run. (Rick Wilking/Reuters)

    Q: Was it too expensive to develop for RIM, or were the tools hard to use?

    A: The thing with developers is if you can make it easy to target a platform, then youll get people wanting to jump on board. Fundamentally, developers are creative people. Were interested in discovering new things and building out new capabilities for customers. One of the problems that hasnt been previously dealt with on the RIM platform is there have been many, many form factors for the devices, many different phones. So with BlackBerry 10, were minimizing that. Were taking steps that will allow developers to create applications that will run on any of our form factors with little or no modification. Its a big step forward. It will allow them to focus on the things they do best, which is the creativity that surrounds building applications as opposed to making sure it works on every single platform.

    Thats a common problem across the industry. If you look at the Android platform, theres an awful lot of energy that gets put into ports for Android applications. We talked to one Android developer about six months ago about building onto our platform and he said he had 23 different [modifications] to be on a large enough base in the Android ecosystem. Its an endemic problem in the industry and were working really hard to solve it in BlackBerry 10.

    Q: Is there a certain category of apps youre concentrating on trying to get onto BlackBerry devices?

    A: First and foremost, nobody can argue that BlackBerry isnt the best communications-oriented device today. One of our biggest focuses is getting those communications apps for people who are doers as opposed to viewers onto the platform. Were doing a very good job of that today. There are really two categories of applications. One of them is the category of applications that [sell] the device. We have an effort underway at getting those sorts of applications onto the platform and it [was] being addressed by a business development team in Waterloo [yesterday].

    Theres another team thats focused on getting a market onto the platform. There are tens of thousands of applications that are unique in the market today and were focused on getting them onto the platform as well. So one is an outreach program thats targeted at lots and lots of developers, and the other is a very focused business development sales-oriented effort to get those key applications.

    Q: RIM announced PlayBook 2.0 software here at CES, so the device is finally getting features like native email and calendar. Should the device have been released without such apps?

    A: That was ancient history, I wasnt part of the company back then. [Laughs]

    Q: But was it bad a idea to release it without those apps? Did it hurt the BlackBerry brand?

    A: I think that when people buy a new platform, what theyre looking for is to get applications on that platform. Today more than ever, these are small computers and a great deal of their value derives from the applications that are on them. So when we go to market with any device, if you look at how classic platform launches occur, you try to line up developers so that they have their applications available at launch with the device. Developers want to do that, by the way, because they look at the amount of money the company is spending on launching a device and say, Hey, if we can draft in behind that, well do better. Years of experience have shown that if you can get an application into the market at launch, then youll do better, so thats what our focus is. When those BlackBerry 10 devices launch, were going to have a wave of applications drafting in right behind it.

    Q: The February update wont bring BlackBerry Messenger to the PlayBook. Whats the hold-up?

    A: Building software takes time. [Laughs]

    Q: We had some questions from readers via Twitter. Heres one: Are you planning on releasing new devices between now and BB10 later in 2012?

    A: I dont think I can answer that one, as its outside the scope of what I do.

    Q: Does RIM have any plans to take BBM to other platforms?

    A: Again, Im not the BBM guy.

    Q: When are you getting the Netflix app?

    A: When we talk with developers, we actually have to work within their business plans, which is unsurprising. In the case of Netflix, theyre doing very well focusing on PCs and those sorts of things, so well get to it when Netflix and RIM are both ready to do it.

    Q: Has RIM considered developing devices running Android with a preinstalled bundle of secure RIM apps?

    A: Actually, I think the opposite is true. We have this great Android Player technology in PlayBook 2.0 and that will be on BB10 devices. The issue with Android devices is that its wide open. None of our enterprise customers will take an Android application because of the potential for malware and piracy problems that really hurt developers. So what weve done is built the Player technology and an Android developer can submit their application to App World, our marketplace, and it will go through the same rigorous testing and approval process that we have on App World. Then an enterprise customer can be confident that it doesnt contain malware and a developer can be confident that somebody isnt ripping off their stuff and submitting it to another marketplace and selling it under their own name. Piracy is a huge problem on Android and weve never done that to our developers. We can give them a marketplace thats secure and lets them sell their products to our customer base.

    Q: When will QNX, the software that the PlayBook runs on, go fully open source?

    A: Youre going to have to ask the QNX guys that one, but QNX is already built on open standards. To make it go free and open source, well, goodbye to the business, right?
    2ys4u and bilalqwarriach like this.
    01-13-12 08:59 AM
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    01-13-12 09:17 AM
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