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BlackBerry Doomed?

Toktumi’s Peter Sisson asks Is the BlackBerry Doomed? and goes on to compare his recent experience of developing for BlackBerry with his experience as an iPhone developer.  Many of his complaints – non-standard hardware and OS versions in particular – are the same issues we ran into two years ago when we developed and delivered iotum’s Talk-Now  presence application for BlackBerry.  Ultimately we gave up on the BlackBerry, believing the return on investment of developing for the web would be higher.  And, in fact, Calliflower on iPhone is a hybrid web / native application, proving that hypothesis. The bet that we’ve made is that web development will be as powerful on handheld devices as it is on computers. 

RIM is addressing some of the issues that Peter raises already.  In particular, an upgraded web browser is in the works, which will make hybrid development strategies like ours much more appealing. Moreover, the business terms for selling applications through BlackBerry AppWorld are more attractive than Apple’s iPhone App Store. However, there are still holes in RIMs strategy which need to be addressed. 

In particular, the user experience associated with getting an application onto a BlackBerry is a pale shadow of the iPhone user experience.

  • Installing an application on iPhone is a process of searching the App Store, clicking a download link, paying if necessary, and then a short wait. 
  • Installing an application on BlackBerry is a process of determining where to get the application – AppWorld, another store, or direct from the developer – downloading the application, accepting a bunch of scary but mostly incomprehensible security questions, and frequently accepting an often lengthy license agreement.

Why? When RIM announced the AppWorld, their strategy was to be:

  • Carrier friendly, allowing multiple stores, including carrier specific stores.
  • Developer friendly, sharing 80% of of the revenue with the developer of an application, and permitting applications to be delivered directly by the developer to the customer, without RIM’s approval.

As a strategy, RIM was attempting to find a position that would allow them to counter the complaints about Apple’s high-handed process. In courting carriers and developers with these concessions, however, RIM has created barriers to adoption of those applications by the customer, which may ultimately cause more harm than benefit.

{ 4 comments… add one }

  • Geoff October 29, 2009, 4:17 am

    From what I've seen – RIM isn't doomed, but they'd better get their house in order fast. The sheer inertia of their installed corporate base guarantees that they are going to get the 2nd and 3rd benefit of the doubt.

    The situation feels similar to the nascent PC environment where there was much jostling in the marketplace with Windows ultimately emerging as the standard bearer. Looks like iPhone is emerging as that standard in the mobile environment. So, is RIM competing with Apple? I don't think so – I think their competition is shaping up to be Android. It's not fully baked yet, but it's maturing awfully fast.

    My experience as a jealous BB user hinges on two issues that have to be fixed:
    1) you correctly point out the app experience. In addition to your comments, I would add that simply accessing their app environment is just painful.
    2) and this is where I see their greatest failing – their web experience is abysmal, and users won't continue to tolerate this regardless of corporate dedication

    I hope they fix it, and fast. We need a strong and healthy RIM!

  • Xing October 30, 2009, 10:20 am

    And here comes Android (2.0) on some interesting phones. It might be time for me to "break down" and get a smartphone.

  • Geoff November 1, 2009, 5:47 pm

    and in related news…

    "How popular is it? Well, he says it’s getting downloaded:

    20,000 times a day on iPhone.
    16-17,000 times a day on Blackberry.
    8,000 times a day on Android.

    He says on Windows Mobile and other phones it’s getting downloaded far less often than that. Westergren told me if he were starting development today he’d build for the above three platforms and is seeing more growth in Android than the others, so he’d bias to iPhone and Android, if he had to make a choice of only two platforms to develop on. This is also what I’m hearing from many other developers."


  • Miranda November 2, 2009, 4:15 am

    BBerry isn't doomed and is still the superior business phone/PDA…
    I have recently been looking for a PBX /Mobile integration solution, specifically for Blackberry, to reduce our telecoms bills – I just have found Agito Networks and have been really impressed…. Worth checking out….

    Here is a cut down version of their blurb – but more detail (collateral), webcast and contact detail when you click thru to their website… http://www.agitonetworks.com/blackberry_voip

    Agito Networks RoamAnywhere intelligently connects users to the best available wireless network (enterprise WiFi, cellular, home, hotspot), with fast, cost effective and automatic handover as they move between networks.

    We support over 45 of the leading smartphones from Nokia. Samsung, HTC, etc., and have also recently announced Agito for BlackBerry, the first enterprise VoIP over WiFi solution for BlackBerry smartphones. Agito for Blackberry brings all of the key benefits of VoWLAN, such as:
    Better in-building coverage using your enterprise WLAN
    Reduced international mobile expenses – both for direct dialing and international roaming
    Increase in productivity and collaboration for mobile workers, with deskphone and PBX features available on the BlackBerry smartphone
    Agito for BlackBerry brings these benefits and features to your organisation whether the user is using VoIP over WiFi or cellular. As always, Agito's award winning RoamAnywhere solution is simple and easy to install and manage, supporting a wide variety of PBXs (including Cisco, Avaya, Nortel, ShoreTel, and many others), all from a power-efficient, single RU appliance.

    More info: http://www.agitonetworks.com/blackberry_voip

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