Q & Answers

Q & Answers: Advice For Blackberry

(Every week, Rocksauce Studios CEO Q Manning will answer your questions about app design, app development and the mobile industry.)

In January, RIM is going to announce the next version of their once-popular BlackBerry. What went so wrong? How did RIM because such an underdog in the past few years?

BlackBerry’s initial problem seemed to be an adherence to the old way of doing things. Just look at how long their phones were keyboard based and had those little scroll wheels on them! Then there was there software, which was extremely limited. If you wanted to install an app, you had delete another! The amount of space set aside for app use was ridiculous. They refused to embrace the app economy like Apple and Android did. They were behind the ball for too long. Even when they came out with their first touch phone, you still had to deal with extremely limited space for apps…of course, you had to find apps first and that was difficult. RIM didn’t do any outreach with developers and didn’t get anyone on board to make apps for them! Apple and Google have made it very easy to develop for them, hence their success (although if anyone from Microsoft is reading this, you should send Rocksauce Studios some Windows Phones so we can properly make apps for you!)

This also applies to BlackBerry: send up some dev units so we can learn how your device functions and we’ll be better prepared and willing to make apps for your platform. Right now, no one is supporting BlackBerry, so the best RIM can do is embrace developers and get them on board. BlackBerry used to be the top dog, so they refused to do it initially. Hopefully, they won’t make the same mistake again.

What would get you to buy a new BlackBerry? What’s the best possible outcome here?

For me to even contemplate using a BlackBerry, they would need to have good third party support on hand to make good games for them (Rovio would be a nice start) and they need to have something in their operating system that no one else has. They also need to make sure they repeat what HP did wrong with Web OS. After buying it from Palm, they released a few devices but abandoned the whole thing after it didn’t immediately sell well. But they acted too soon. Those of us in the development community loved Web OS. It was a beautiful operating system that did things that no one is doing to this day and it let us use Java Script to write applications! We were all really excited about it, but HP dropped the ball and didn’t let their potentially amazing device gather any steam. RIM needs to learn from this. They need to be committed to their new work. They need to get developers involved. They need to realize that this is a crowded market and that it may take some time for it to catch on.

If they want (or need) instant results, they need to drop the concept of their own proprietary operating system altogether and just embrace Android. It’s ready there and it’s popular! They need to do what Samsung and HTC do — take the Android OS and modify it and present it as they see fit. It’s easy to make you own flavor of Android and BlackBerry should embrace that.

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