By The Guardian
How can RIM get its mojo back for developers? The company’s technical director of the BlackBerry Web Platform Laurent Hasson gave a keynote speech at the London Web Summit this morning outlining why web-apps may be the key to BlackBerry’s comeback.
He started by admitting that a lot of people don’t even know BlackBerry has a web platform, or assume that it’s horrible to use based on their experiences making native apps for RIM’s devices.
“It’s a shame, because a lot of people feel that way,” he said, while citing an example of a developer telling him BlackBerry development was like “a walk in the park. Central park, around midnight, in the 80s, alone…”
“Fundamentally, a lot has changed,” continued Hasson, noting that a year ago RIM launched its first WebKit browser, as well as the full BlackBerry WebWorks web-app platform across its tablets and smartphones, and web development tools for people to use.
“Say no to NIBS,” said Hasson – NIBS being ‘Native Is Better Syndrome’, the slogan RIM is seemingly using to dissuade developers from focusing purely on native apps (for other companies’ devices, most likely).
“Native will always be a couple of steps further [technically], but the web is absolutely competitive for the large majority of applications… An HTML5 application doesn’t mean you don’t have access to an app store, and it doesn’t mean you don’t have access to native APIs.”
Hasson added that RIM is trying to “pull together the best of the open Web that we can”. But what about the market for these web-apps – how can developers make money from them? Hasson pitched RIM’s app store as the answer.
He noted that BlackBerry App World is currently in more than 160 countries, and that more than 90% of the 75m current BlackBerry subscribers have access to the store, which is generating 6m downloads a day.
“About 13% of vendors actually make $100k or more selling their apps on our store. That’s more than any other store on the market today. Getting an app into the market has a high return on investment.”
Hasson also talked up the BlackBerry Messaging (BBM) service as something developers should be building into their apps when appropriate.
“With a BBM-enabled app, 20% of apps on the app store that get downloaded are BBM-enabled,” said Hasson. “Using BBM to make your application stickier really works.” And RIM has been working to ensure developers can build web-apps that tap into BBM too.
Hasson pointed out that 90% of PlayBook users have upgraded to the latest version of the OS within a month of its release – unsurprising given the fact that it included features like email, contacts and calendar.
“We’ve been doing things for a year at least that most other platforms on the market haven’t even been doing yet,” signed off Hasson in his clarion call to app developers. “We’re trying to turn things around.”
Developers, what’s your view on Hasson’s claims, and the appeal of web-apps on BlackBerry devices? It would be interesting to get your responses in the comments.
© Guardian News and Media 2012
[Image credit: AFP]