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I Took Urbanspoon 3 Months To Develop Their BlackBerry App…

Urbanspoon I was reading an article by my buddy Stuart Weinberg over at the WSJ and ran across an interesting fact. Urbanspoon told the WSJ that it took two programmers a month to create their iPhone app. On the other hand it took their software development house Wanderspot three months to develop a similar app for BlackBerry. The most painful part is that the same app is just not taking off on the BlackBerry but that could be because Poynt is a more feature filled alternative.

This is a tale that we have heard from many BlackBerry developers and I am truly hoping that RIM is finally going to address the issue. With the numerous types of BlackBerry models out there it is difficult for developers to make an app that works well on all the devices. Even Pandora pointed out to GigaOm that when they originally launched for BlackBerry they did not develop an app for the Storm due to complexities. They noticed that a developer created a 3rd party app for Pandora that took off on the Storm and created one themselves. Now the Storm accounts for 60% of installs of Pandora on BlackBerrys.

The tools that RIM gives developers are weak to say the least and they force developers to create apps in the annoying constraints of the Java runtime environment that RIM refuses to give up on. According to the WSJ they were told that RIM is working on a new Drag and Drop software development toolkit that is coming out in the next few months. That might be all nice and good but RIM really needs to get on top of this problem. They have DevCon coming up in the next few months and they continue to evolve the BlackBerry development environment on a foundation that is NOT developer friendly. For example, RIM requires all applications be signed which is an onerous process that confuses the hell out of new developers.

RIM keeps on pushing the idea of Super Apps but unless they find a way to make it easier for developers to roll out such apps they are fighting uphill. I was truly hoping that OS 6 would solve this but all signs point to the fact that OS 6 will continue to be hobbled by the same tools, J2ME virtual environment, & lack of prebuilt functions that plagues current developers.

What do you think? Are you hopeful that RIM will address these issues with BlackBerry 6 and with releases before DevCon? I am counting on them to turn this around!

9 total comments on this postSubmit your comment!
  1. Guys, guys! Get over it! Yes, it will take longer to develop BlackBerry apps because of signing & because of the tighter security model. Yes, perhaps the SDK needs work, and that can always be improved! But in the longer term, as smartphones continue to grow in popularity, they will be the main source of personal identity theft attacks rather than PCs. Most people dump their brains to their personal smartphones (banking info, passwords to websites, and other key personal data) making them targets for identify theft. This is why I use a BlackBerry! The security model is far superior to iOS and Android. Apps may be easier to write for these platforms, but when malware becomes rampant in the coming months and years, people will be embracing the more secure BlackBerry. For Apple and Google, it won’t be easy to create a good security model later without having a major re-write on all the existing apps!

  2. I use Poynt and Urban Spoon, but honestly Poynt is best for Movies, and Urban Spoon is a more fun app for eating out. I recommend both to everyone.

  3. For BlackBerry you have to code each visual element/transistion etc. (which can be thousands of lines of code). That is what adds to the development length. Apple’s SDK is more robust for visual elements. Also why every application looks the same. Not too sure about Android though as I haven’t played with it. But the underlying code on Android is Java as well. So same shit different day. Problem is that the BB JDE visual elements that are provided in each iteration of the JDE are not backward compatible. So even if RIM came out with awesome OOB visual elements in JDE 6, you can’t run them on any other device. Hopefully, they will release some visual element libraries for older devices. They talked about it at Devcon and WES.

  4. One other thing to note. The urbanspoon application is nothing but a toy. This once again reinforces the difference is user bases. I would rather use Yelp (or Poynt) over it any day.

    • I agree with this statement 100%. The fact that Urbanspoon is a big thing on the iPhone is more a commentary on the different types of people each platform attracts.

  5. Exactly. Plus in 95% of the country, UrbanSpoon is worthless.

    Still, RIM does need to make it much easier for developers. The window has been opened by Apple, enforcing use of only Apple tools for developers and denying cross-platform developed apps has left many devs looking around. Too bad BlackBerry really hs nothing to offer but a larger user base that it will take them much more effort to reach.

    from my BlackBerry Storm…

  6. I don’t think Urbanspoon is crap because of the blackberry DE, it’s crap because the features are lacking and it’s usefulness and how well it works are questionable….

    That said, the blackberry DE is confusing and hard to use. They need to get rid of midlet api’s completely. The whole RIM api/midlet api thing is confusing as hell…. The dual sound playback on CDMA devices needs to be addressed also.

  7. I cannot count how many times I’ve seen an article like this from BB websites. I used to be a fan. No more. Droid, here I come. RIM is dying. The phones are pathetic in terms of applications and social function. E-mail is great. Keyboards too. That’s it.

  8. I suppose this is another US-centric app… :/

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