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WSJ Rags on RIM’s Developer Ecosystem Using Weak Arguments

Quite a few of our readers sent in a recent article in the WSJ titled: “RIM Tries Harder on Apps.” The main point they start out with is an example from Widality where the developer says they are having a hard time selling their software due to a lack on in app payment options. I personally totally agree with them but this is a feature RIM has already announced and plans to roll out very soon. Truthfully this is a feature that Apple and Google added to their App Stores about 10-12 months ago so RIM is not light years behind. (Google & Apple) I hear Widality’s point but it just seems like something RIM is already addressing.

The WSJ then brings an example from PopCap games who created Bejeweled and Plants vs Zombies. They have a valid point saying that there are quite a few BlackBerrys around which “not great gaming machines” due to old operating systems and processors. The irony is that their two main games are not what you would call “processor intensive games” when you compare them to racing or other graphically intense games.

While I see both of these points I think the WSJ focused on two weak cases when they could just mention how complicated it is to develop a BlackBerry app. This is RIM’s main focus in trying to make app development easier and more something that can happen in a week instead of a few months.

They do make a good point that the upcoming in app purchase capability coupled with the new advertising service and analytics solution will make the BlackBerry platform more promising for developers. Still I find one big problem with this whole app store war that is going on now. Most of these apps are not what I would consider apps. For example, most of the apps my friends rave about on their Android or iPhone devices are games. I totally concede that the BlackBerry is not a great gaming platform with RIM’s lackluster support of OpenGL but business users usually don’t care much about games.

The apps I want to see developed on the BlackBerry platform are productivity and communication apps. That is the reason I purchased a BlackBerry. To get things done on the road while having a little bit of fun a listening to music and watching video. Everything else is just a perk.

What do you think?

9 total comments on this postSubmit your comment!
  1. I agree with you, that is why I stay with RIM; they get the job done. If I was into gaming, I would have something else, thank you for the article.

  2. “…added to their App Stores about 10-12 months ago so RIM is not light years behind.”

    I would argue that a 10-12 month lag IS light years behind in terms of the mobile industry.

  3. They had an app ecosystem without their own app store…

    Having a centralized app store was a bonus, not a necessity in the first place.

    And Aces Jewel Hunt > similar popcap games, so…. Excuses are excuses. They should just say they don’t think it’s the right environment for them. Meanwhile other developers will make money instead of them.

  4. I can’t speak for other developers, but here a couple of points that would at least make us a little happier being a BB developer:

    – Don’t announce if you can’t deliver: There is nothing worse than getting excited about a new API or technology and then having to wait for months until it gets released. We developers are all BB addicts too, we love to add new technology right away if we are excited about it. That excitment fades with time. We all knew that ad services and in-app payment would come because the competition had it long time ago. If all you can deliver is an announcement, just leave it. With those announcement you are just showing that you are playing catch up. That leads to the next point…
    – Deliver more than you promise: Simply put: Wow us! It is one thing to deliver what you announce if you deliver right away, but if it takes you months to deliver, deliver more than you announced! We want to think ‘Wow, we can do even more with it than we imagined.’ Do not deliver APIs that are half-baked or don’t even work at all. (The native FilePicker never worked on OS 5.0…)
    – Deliver elegant, complete and working APIs! If you provide an API to set the homescreen wallpaper, provide one to get it, too! If it is a security issue, protect it with a signature. It sometimes feels like RIM is not planning the APIs but instead adding just what they need for building their own apps.

  5. I pretty much ignore articles like the WSJ and the likes put out ad they are rarely balanced and generally (as you pointed out Ronen) pick some really bad examples and then spin them almost to the extreme. Why aren’t they interested in both sides? There has to be an agenda, as I’m sure they could have found SOME developer that IS doing well on BlackBerry.

    Not to say there aren’t problems. RIM is way behind the market and is struggling to figure out how to catch up. BlackBerry 6 is more bandaids on the OS without fixing the root problems. Maybe a clean break with Neutrino (QNX) is what’s needed? I’ve said it elsewhere, they need to be making a all out full court press to launch the “next” BlackBerry OS with all out robust developer tools.

  6. Best I see it, this is mostly just a case of Widality doing everything wrong…


    Hi, this is Terry at Widality, we were mentioned in the WSJ article. We were mis-quoted in that article, and mis-interpreted by some follow-on articles, and I wanted to set the record straight.

    When I was interviewed, my main point was that RIM’s Payment Service will revolutionize the ability of BlackBerry developers to make money, so I was nothing but positive about what it means for developers. I then went on to explain that our users will be able to download for free, use the app, and then pay at regular intervals from within the app when they get value from it. This contrasts to today’s situation where our only option in App World is to charge a one-time fee during the download process, which doesn’t fit our business model. I then went on to say that although we are one of the most popular business apps on BlackBerry, with thousands and thousands of delighted users, we have found it hard to monetize them as much as we would have liked (even though they actually want to pay us!) because of the present limitations of App World for subscription services like ours. We do have a successful revenue-generating business, in fact we were acquired this summer as a result of that by Wmode, but it’s by no means as lucrative as it could be.

    In the interview I was very clear; in-app billing is the way forward, not just for us but for a large number of developers that haven’t monetized as well as they had hoped. We have already implemented the beta of Payment Service, it was showcased by RIM at Devcon, and we will be aggressively moving our entire user base across to it as soon as it goes live.

    As you can see, my positive real-life example of what Payment Service by RIM will mean to us was lost in the noise, which I guess is typical of the media at times like this.

    We remain huge supporters of BlackBerry because our target users are typically BlackBerry users, we will prove out Payment Service and we will be back in touch when we have that successful case study of in-app billing that I know we can deliver. Watch this space.

    Anyone is welcome to contact me at [email protected] for a follow-up.



    • Hi Terry,
      Thanks for responding. I understand that you might have been misquoted which is unfortunate since the author uses Widality as an example of the exact opposite of your intended message. I suggest you go on the record and actually describe your experiences developing for the BlackBerry platform if you can. We always need developers who can explain the benefits of developing for the BlackBerry platform. If you need a forum to publish it we can post it on this site.
      All the best,

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