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Smaller Developers Unhappy With New BlackBerry Alliance Program?

community_left_out When we mentioned RIM’s new Alliance Program launching Jon let us know that some smaller shops or individual devs are not that happy with the new program. (case 1 | case 2) The problem arises from the fact that there is no level between the free registered and paid associate tiers. You must be an associate if you want access to BIS-B which is the only truly reliable way to communicate to the internet from a BlackBerry app. Some of that is resolved in OS 5.0 but 99% of BlackBerrys are not running OS 5.0 which is not even released (officially).

It used to be that you just paid up the $2,000 entrance fee and you got access to BIS-B and a few other perks. That alone was a huge barrier to entry for many applications especially free ones. Now you also have to complete 45 member points to be eligible. You have a whole year to complete those 45 points but this will definitely discourage many budding independent developers.

I do not intend to rant on RIM but this BIS-B issue needs to be resolved. The fact that you need to pay a $2,000 +45 points ransom to create a solid internet connection for your BlackBerry application is absurd. It will just discourage smaller developers who are driving the growth of RIM’s main competitor. I was hoping for more from the new Alliance program but it seems like more of the same.

I totally respect the effort RIM (especially Mike Kirkup) has put into engaging developers in the community with this new member points system but they are turning a blind eye to these smaller developers. Many of these developers just need a solid network transport layer and none of the extra frills that RIM throws in like named developer support.

I am curious how RIM will respond to this issue… Hopefully they will do the right thing and provide a solution for smaller developers. Until then we can continue having fun setting up APN’s for our smaller developers.

This point system detailed below might be reasonable for medium or even small firms but for a 1 man shop it is absurd to force them through such a system to maintain their associate tier membership and keep BIS-B support. Even the $2,000 entrance fee for BIS-B is asking too much when no other smartphone platform requires such a high participation cost.

Activity Point Assignment
Revenue Impacting
Influenced Revenues 0-10 per quarter
Desired Behavior
Customer References (limit to 2 per year) 5 per submission
Valid Case Study (limit to 1 per year per partner, only if approved by RIM) 10
Completed Competency (through Certifications, see Certification Requirements) 10
Sponsorship of RIM Organized Event (maximum points awarded each year is 10) 10 per sponsorship
Company representation at the BlackBerry Developer Conference 5
Company representation at WES 5
Company representation at Alliance Summit (either North American or European) 5
Completion of Alliance Member Survey 3
Promoting BlackBerry Alliance Membership on your organization’s website 5
Requirements Completed
Submit quarterly activations or PIN numbers 2 per quarter
Up-to-date company profile and contacts 2
Up-to-date solution submission for RIM distribution 2
Sales tools submitted for RIM distribution 2
8 total comments on this postSubmit your comment!
  1. I was looking forward to joining the alliance program but once I found out about the cost and the points system, as a 1 man operation, I couldn’t really afford to join…

    • Yeah it seriously sucks that small devs are kept out of the Alliance and BIS-B access. Really goes against RIM’s whole push to welcome devs. Maybe they are only welcoming larger devs…

      • Yeah, I really would just like access to BIS-B (legitimately) and to BIS push. I dont need the marketing (thats what BerryReview is for 😉 and the other stuff that comes with the alliance memberships. I would be more inclined to pay $500 and maybe 10 – 15 points or something for just the common stuff everyone needs.

        Or another alternative would be to do as Apple. $100 / year which access to the network and to push.

        • I’m with you Jason. I have a few applications on MobiHand stores and on App World (such as FMyLife) that I would love to enable BIS-B connections on and possibly BIS push. I had been emailing RIM’s Business Relations position back and forth since July concerning becoming an alliance partner. I even had an interview on the phone and they had “pre-accepted” me as an alliance partner. I had to wait until September for them to let me know it would be $2,000 a year and 45 points for me to have a CHANCE (you need to apply) at BIS-B connections.

          Both of your suggestions seem great.

  2. I feel that a lot of RIMs decisions are to support the carriers or large devs. iPhone, Android, AND Winmo supports the small shops much better. For awhile, lots of peeps had Berrys privately. I am a dying breed in my circle of friends while iPhone is like an invasion.

    • I’d have to agree with you, Stacy, that RIM is focusing more efforts on carriers and larger enterprises than the SMB market. I work for a small IT consulting company in the Cincinnati area (7 man shop), and 3 of us carry BlackBerry’s. Sadly, the owners are not BlackBerry fanboys like myself, so I couldn’t get a BES approved. We are using BPS, which RIM left to collect dust back at 4.1.4. It is getting harder and harder to sell BlackBerry solutions to customers when I can’t even demo the benefits of a full-blown BES myself. I have been emailing back and forth with RIM regarding the NFR BES and certification vouchers that the Associate tier gets, since my bosses aren’t going to shell out the $2k for this.

      I am the biggest BlackBerry fanboy at my company, and have setup 2 BES servers (150 users, 80 users), and 4 BPS servers (~5 users each). I have no BlackBerry certifications, and I’m not even using a full BES. While I think these would help me sell BlackBerry to customers, my coworkers don’t see us making back the investment, and RIM seems to care even less. To be quite honest, unless RIM plans to update/replace BPS sometime in the next 6 months or so, I will most likely change to a different mobile platform. I love my crackberry just as much as the next guy, but my company focuses on small and medium sized companies, and RIM doesn’t seem to care about them as much as they once had…

      Now that I have announced the possibility of dropping my BlackBerry for WinMo/iPhone/Android, let the flaming begin :-p.

  3. I agree that RIM is making it very hard for the smaller developers, Im a 1 man shop in South Africa, 3 of the items on the points list isnt even a option for us. RIM SA also only had its first training program for non carriers last month. So other than the smaller “free” points I have to throw a lot of money at RIM before I can get anywhere.

  4. @All
    This is exactly the situation I am trying to draw attention to. RIM did a good job of realigning the Alliance program for large partners but smaller partners are left out in the cold. It kind of turns RIM into a exclusive club with a catch 22 policy barring entry. You must be big enough to justify the expense of the investment but you cannot become big unless you make the investment.

    Anybody manage to have some meaningful dialog with RIM about this? I really hope they are working on a second phase of the alliance to address this gap.

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