Canadians need to stop being "willfully deaf" about Research in Motion's successes and rally behind the homegrown technology, a RIM executive told a group of Ottawa's mobile developers on Monday.
© Supplied photo
Alec Saunders, RIM’s vice-president of developer relations and ecosystems development
"I watched what happened when Nortel went bust," said Alec Saunders, RIM's vice-president of developer relations and ecosystems development, noting that it seems some Canadians are "wishing (RIM) away."
He added that the company has been "getting slapped around," but is going through a rejuvenation process as it develops its highly anticipated BlackBerry 10 platform, set to be released later this year.
Mr. Saunders said the company has listened to developers complain about the difficulty of developing an app without access to the device, and an online simulation does exist to test out software for BlackBerry 10.
But RIM is taking developer's concerns one step further, Mr. Saunders told attendees of Mobile Monday, a mobile developer networking event co-founded by Untether.tv founder Rob Woodbridge and Macadamian CEO Fred Boulanger.
RIM has produced 6,000 devices called BlackBerry 10 Dev Alpha, which Mr. Saunders will be distributing for free at an 18-city BlackBerry 10 Jam World Tour.
The iPhone-sized and shaped device will allow developers to test their apps and ensure they are compatible with the newest BlackBerry platform.
The only Canadian pit stop on the world tour is in Toronto on June 21, with not enough devices to accommodate additional dates in Canada such as Ottawa, Mr. Saunders said.
Registration for the event is open, with only 200 spots available at each location. Each attending developer is eligible for a free Dev Alpha device that they will receive at the event.
Another boon promised by RIM and announced by Mr. Saunders is the pledge that if a developer doesn't make $10,000 in revenues from their BlackBerry app in the first year, RIM will write them a cheque to ensure they get that amount.
Many developers asked whether this was a scalable promise considering the high volume of apps being added to the platform, and Mr. Saunders acknowledged that details are still being determined.
He added that the $10,000 guarantee would be granted to developers after the app passed a quality assurance process by a third party company that has yet to be hired.
Mr. Saunders put out a call to attendees to develop a guidebook for how to pass the quality assurance app test, adding that he would likely be able to put money behind the project.
He outlined other issues developers have raised about BlackBerry, such as the prevailing myth that it is difficult to program for its platform.
But with the option to develop apps using various programs including Adobe Air, HTML5, QNX Native SDK, Android, Java and C++, Mr. Saunders said that just isn't true.
"I think that what we've built is the most open platform a developer can use," he said.
The new platform will feature Cascades, which RIM describes as an easy-to-use and flexible user-interface framework that will support BlackBerry 10 apps. It will also allow for BlackBerry PlayBook apps to be ported to the new platform with minor tweaks.
Another "myth" Mr. Saunders sought to bust was the notion that developers are leaving the BlackBerry platform.
The number of vendors on BlackBerry's App World jumped 254 per cent last year and 68 per cent last quarter alone, Mr. Saunders said, with almost 25,000 PlayBook apps and almost 75,000 apps for BlackBerry OS.
Mr. Woodbridge, who emceed the developers' pizza party, referred to RIM as "a beacon in the world for Canada."
"I wouldn't write them off," he said.