Scoble and Saunders are speaking different languages

This past weekend Robert Scoble posted on why he was pessimistic about the future of RIM, and was followed by a response by Alec Saunders. However it is unlikely that the two of them are going to come to much of an agreement, because they are talking about two totally separate things.

Saunders’ response is about the many cross-platform development opportunities that BlackBerry provides. RIM has been pushing this approach for a while now with the PlayBook taking the approach that it should support as many development platforms as possible (similar to desktop Windows). Why should developers support BlackBerry? Anyone who has seen one of Alec’s presentations knows that he always emphasizes the ability for developers to make money on the platform. Stats about how the total amount of money spent in BlackBerry AppWorld is more then is spent in Android Market.

But to many in Silicon Valley (such as Scoble), this does not matter.

For the many venture backed start ups in silicon valley the goal is not to make money. The goal is not to increase revenue and make a profit. The goal instead is to find a company willing to spend money to buy them out. The goal is to find more wealthy backers willing to invest a few million in the hopes that it can later be sold for more. The ability to actually make money on a platform could not matter less.

Look back at Scoble’s original post. In it he says that “I just don’t see how most of the world’s “pro” development shops (I.E. the ones that are venture backed) will support more than Android and iOS.” Note the wording here. He doesn’t consider developers like myself to be professionals.

Yet I would argue that we are actually the ones going about and working to create serious businesses. And (with some exceptions) we are the ones that are most likely to support BlackBerry. For example EA, has never hesitated to support BlackBerry. This is not because it makes EA look good, and not because it allows them to put out a press release, but because it makes them money. EA isn’t running around town looking for investors or trying to find a buyer, instead they are simply trying their best to sell games for a profit.

For those companies that exist solely for the purpose of raising (and spending) another round maybe it is best to just support Android and iOS. Their only true customers are the managers at the venture funds. If your revenue only requires you to give a demo, supporting a single device is good enough. And many in Silicon valley have phones running Android or iOS. Yet like BlackBerry’s popularity in Canada, or Nokia’s dominance in Finland, the fact that Android and iOS are more common then average in the communities that surround Mountain View and Cupertino should be neither surprising nor meaningful.

So as long as Saunders and Scoble are talking about two different things it is unlikely that they are going to see eye to eye on the issue. So maybe RIM is not that relevant in the nonsense of Silicon Valley venture capital games. Who cares? For the most part these venture backed companies do not matter in the larger world at all. It would be (in all honesty) a waste of time for RIM to care what these “companies” think.

But for those of us who see our customers as the people who buy our apps and games, for those of us who actually care about growing a business, for those of us where more customers means more revenue instead of just more expenses, it would be silly not to support the millions of BlackBerry users.

9 total comments on this postSubmit your comment!
  1. Well said… but I have 2 points;

    1. Takes nothing to port your android app to QNX now, so why wouldn’t they? Just stupid not too.

    2. Besides as soon as they get bought out, the will be expanding the eco systems to other platforms because they have the money… (Native SDK for QNX)

    So again these so call analysis either have it wrong or have some sort of self serving agenda.

    Personally I just think there stupid!

  2. Never heard of Robert Scoble before yesterday, and no need to hear from him again.

    He may be big in the Valley, but his pic on here reveals one important detail… HE”S OLD!!!!!!!!

    If you are over 30 you are history in the tech business. Robert, I don’t want to hear from you.

    • Scoble is younger then Thorsten Heins

      • Is he a German Engineer with a degree? Then no one cares what he thinks!

      • TH is about running a company and getting things done on time.

        Scoble is a blogger writing about what he thinks the “future” is.

        Scoble think Apple is “cool” his post says so.

        Tell me this when have you ever seen kids think their parent’s stuff is cool??????

        Ask Saunders points out technology is already changing the Apple walled garden. Programmers of the future (not those enamoured with Apple now) are going to find ways to develop the same App on all platforms.

        Scoble might want loyalty to Apple but the younger generation is going to ask why? They are not going to see Apple as cool (as people do now).

        Soon we’ll be able to change phones without being locked in. Remember how people thought we’d be locked in to hotmail because all contacts were there. Google said no just tell us your hotmail account and eveything will be copied over.

        Scoble is looking backward not forward, a sure sign of age!!!!

  3. Well any startup looking to test the viability of their project will need a large user base to get enough feedback. The PlayBook was a big disappointment and it’s almost silly to release something solely on that platform if you want to make money. Makes perfect sense to have it as an option if you went down the HTML5 road though.

    • We are going to get an opportunity to test this. I am currently working on releasing a game that (initially) will be exclusive to the PlayBook and the Nook. We’ll see how it does…

      • Good luck :) and keep us posted :)
        When I built a business plan last Summer we ended up focusing on other platforms because the PlayBook was not selling well enough. The price would have needed to be too high in order to recoup our costs.

        • Ho w did you estimate sales across platforms. More users on a platform does not result in more sales, since there are also more producers of the same type app on larger platforms.

          Economics will tell you since entry into app writing is pretty low profits should be equal across all platforms in equilibrium.

          Sorry business economics Prof here.

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