RIM Counting on BlackBerry 10 To Make It Relevant Again
Android sits atop the mobile computing device market, with Apple in a very strong second place position that includes a big lead in the tablet space. Microsoft, meanwhile, is prepping for its huge launch of Windows 8 at the end of October, and encouraging its cadre of developers to start churning out apps so it can reach a goal of 100,000 by the end of January.
Lost in all the commotion is Research in Motion (RIM), which has equally high hopes for its mobile platform, named BlackBerry 10. In many ways, RIM has the highest mountain to climb; it lacks the advantages that Android and iOS have in public perception and momentum, and falls short of Microsoft's huge cash reserves to advertise and promote its products. Still, RIM is pushing ahead, hoping that BlackBerry 10 will spark a much-needed turnaround.
To that end, RIM announced yesterday that its app store, BlackBerry App World, is taking applications. "This means that apps submitted to the store starting today, Oct.10, are guaranteed to be reviewed, tested and ready for publishing when BlackBerry 10 launches in Q1 2013," according to an entry on the BlackBerry Developer blog.
(One important note for developers of BlackBerry 10 apps: RIM cautioned that it's necessary to use the Beta3 Developer SDKs launched on September 27. Apps that have been previously submitted need to be recompiled with the latest version, or they won't work.)
To entice developers, RIM announced earlier its "10k Developer Commitment". The program stipulates that for apps that meet certain guidelines and earn at least $1,000, RIM will make up the difference between that number and $10,000. So, for an app that earns $2,500, RIM will pay the developer $7,500.
But RIM has internal struggles adding to the external challenges it faces. Originally, the BlackBerry 10 smartphones were supposed to appear in late 2012. That has now been put off until 2013 -- after the Christmas shopping season so important for sales -- and there are rumors that it may slip into March.
On top of production delays, RIM has to cope with its shrinking workforce and declining income. Its Q2 financial results were terrible, with a 31 percent year-over-year revenue drop, to $2.9 billion from $4.2 billion. Couple that with the layoffs of 5,000 workers, and the road back to marketshare and profitability is looking longer and longer.
Keith Ward is the editor in chief of Visual Studio Magazine.