RIM to offer free device, monetary incentive to developers

Courtney
Courtney Symons
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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.

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.

Organizations: BlackBerry 10 Dev Alpha, Nortel

Geographic location: Canada, Toronto, Ottawa

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  • Entrepreneur
    May 23, 2012 - 18:25

    I would be fully behind supporting RIM as a Canadian business *BUT*... RIM was an arrogant company at the top and the way it partnered with others was done in the exact same way. Now humility has blossomed internally but people know that it's only because the ship is sinking. I want to see real new top level management. Not a puppet show where the same guys are using different puppets to produce the same show. And the other problem I and others have with RIM is the old Microsoft line of "look, it's almost here and when it arrives it will be amazing, just wait". Guess what? Waiting is over. By the time we reach the fall and this new *THING* comes out, it will be very tough to clime out of that hole. But you never know...

  • Boris Ralchenko
    May 16, 2012 - 11:28

    Good luck RIM, although I am afraid it is too late. RIM owns approval process, and with multitude of technologies in play "But with the option to develop apps using various programs including Adobe Air, HTML5, QNX Native SDK, Android, Java and C++," I would not bet penny for dollar as mobile developer. RIM is focusing on all at once?

  • When Can I Buy a BBTen Phone
    May 16, 2012 - 11:10

    Who wants to develop for a platform that doesn't even exist and no one knows when it will be on phones that, you know, are actually on sale in a store to buy? RIM has given no date as to when its coming out, perhaps never?

  • Patrick Malone
    May 16, 2012 - 03:35

    We had RIM "Senior Architechs" here in Vancouver guys named Bourne & McDermott promising devices and support. Nada! I pursued them just to follow up, still nothing. We're a West Van digital startup optimizing premium product marketing collateral for table display for enterprise sale. The Blackberry PlayBook has an enormous advantage being able to play Flash reducing the changes needed for sale reps to demo, homes, boats, cars etc to clients. Still we don't get the time of day from guys who made wild promises so don't blame us for a paucity of cheer leading. Patrick Malone 604-317-5477

  • Ed
    May 15, 2012 - 16:41

    Now they are making things up on the fly... an unnamed third party? Only 200 samples for ALL OF CANADA? RIM is dead.

  • Kyle McInnes
    May 15, 2012 - 14:49

    There's another little tidbit of information that was announced at BlackBerry Jam in Orlando, Florida recently that Alec didn't mention. Developers that received a BlackBerry 10 Alpha device and submit an approved app, will get to trade in their alpha devices for an exclusive, limited-edition BlackBerry 10 Developer Device. It's just another small way that RIM is treating developers like VIPs.