At Blackberry 10 Jam in Montreal, the word of the day was “Flow” which represents the most drastic change in the platform in years. RIM known for their devices with amazing keyboards helped usher in the first smartphones more than a decade ago and they were the force that popularized it in the corporate sector. Now in a world of touch screen smartphones, after several attempts RIM is betting everything on Blackberry 10 (BB10).
The rise of Apple and Google in the smartphone market have eroded RIM’s market share and Blackberry 10 represents their bid to gain ground against them and the onslaught of competition. In the midst of the rise of the smartphone, RIM has put all their focus on reinvention with Blackberry 10 which is a completely new platform and not just an evolution of Blackberry as we know it.
They are throwing away the shackles of Java and opening up their platform to be more developer friendly by offering more flexibility by broadening the support for different coding languages. Blackberry 10 was supposed to launch in Q4 of 2012 but was recently delayed to Q1 2013. When it launches this winter it will come in at the start as a touch device more akin to the iPhone and top of the line Android devices than the Blackberry devices RIM is known for.
What the shift to Blackberry 10 shows that RIM recognizes that their platform had to evolve to ease the way for developers and recapture a bigger piece of the consumer and corporate markets. By focusing on developers first they want to create the conditions for a vibrant developer ecosystem but the question on the minds of everyone here today was does RIM have the time or is it already too late to just play catch up.
Blackberry 10 Jam is a developer event that has gone global and is part of their strategy to reach out to developers who have developed for them before and those that have not. It is a way they can show how easy BB10 is for developers to take advantage of even compared to iOS and Android. Will all this work to get developers on board work, that is something only time will tell.
RIM is now making a lot of the code they use for elements within BB10 open source to ease the process of development. When you buy a smart phone today you are not just buying a device; you are buying into an ecosystem and it is the developers who will provide the fuel. RIM knows this and that is why they are focusing so much on creating that ecosystem in anticipation of Blackberry 10′s upcoming (if slightly delayed) launch.
BB10 is all about the flow from app to app and task to task. For the first real look at Blackberry 10 all you have to do is take a look at the Playbook 2.0 which is what the core of Blackberry 10 is based on. The core technology for BB10 is based on QNX which RIM purchased in 2010 and powers their Playbook tablets.
At the Jam RIM in Montreal showcased how easy it is for developers to make graphically rich apps that are deeply integrated with the platform. Incorporating the graphical flourish is done through Cascades, which is the part of their development framework focused on user interface and design meant to streamline the app creation process and also creates a common UI experience for the user.
Magmic a long time provider of mobile entertainment apps was at the Jam and showed off the power of Blackberry 10 by showing Texas Hold’em Live for the Playbook. When they converted the game from the Playbook for Blackberry 10 it only took them a day to get it running by tweaks to their existing code from the Playbook app. Texas Hold’em Live is a network based game which means you are always playing against real people and Magmic monetizes it through chip packs.
They held a set of lightning pitches where developers could pitch app ideas to the crowd and the person with the most votes wins. Blackberry said at several points during the day that the App World has more paid downloads than Android and as part of their incentives to get developers to get on board the BB10 plane.
RIM guaranteed developers at least $10,000 in their first year of their apps being on the App World. What happens if they don’t reach that magic 5 digit number is that RIM will cover the rest so that developers hit that mark. To qualify for the guarantee your app must be RIM certified, and generate sales of $1,000 on its own but this shows how RIM is committed to building its developer ecosystem before BB10’s launch.
In the tech scene Blackberry 10 is seen by many as their last chance against some stiff competition from the plethora of Android and iOS devices. It is not a game changer from a consumer standpoint but brings it to par with the competition and providing an easy to use and flexible development environment that removes a lot of the pain points developers have experienced before BB10.
Blackberry 10 represents a defining moment for RIM and its future. Blackberry 10 is a huge jump from their current technology and it will launch with completely new hardware that will epitomize the Blackberry 10 experience for everyone from this point on and hopefully represents a new start for RIM.
BB10 will launch with a touch device to start, with keyboard based devices to come later. You may have to wait a few more months but it is coming and RIM is doing everything within its power to get developers on board when it lands early 2013.
Here is a video by Abhinav Gupta Talking At Blackberry 10 Jam i on July 11th, 2012 posted by gamescorpion on YouTube.