RIM, which is not showing much in the way of new products or technologies at this week’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, sought to dispel the idea that its failures over the past year had created tensions between the itself and BlackBerry developers.
The words, meant to be reassuring to developers and users, had a rather hollow ring to them considering that the company has seen major mobile developers retreating from its existing OS and its new platforms based around QNX. The move comes as RIM is seeking to court developers for its PlayBook tablet and future BlackBerry 10 devices. It also comes following the loss of several high profile enterprise BlackBerry customers, something that is sure to be on the minds of mobile developers when choosing platforms to support.
Travel company Kayak announced in recent weeks that it had ceased ongoing development of its mobile app for BlackBerry devices. More recently, Netflix announced that it has no plans to develop streaming media apps for either the PlayBook or BlackBerry – a particularly harsh blow given how much RIM has hyped the PlayBook as a media and entertainment tablet.
The company has been getting somewhat positive reviews for its recent update to the PlayBook’s OS combined with it, which brought features that had been surprisingly absent when the device launched last year. Those features included native email and calendar apps along with a framework for managing the tablets in business environments when they aren’t tethered to a BlackBerry.
Alec Saunders, RIM’s head of developer relations categorized the PlayBook’s launch issues and poor sales as “ancient history” and said that he didn’t believe they had led to any breakdown in trust in RIM or its future prospects on the part of mobile developers. It seems debatable whether that means things are as rosy between RIM and developers or whether the delusions about the company’s place in the mobile market extends beyond its board and most senior executive staff.
The latter seems a bit more likely given that the company only has about 10,000 PlayBook apps in its marketplace, many of which are actually Android apps that RIM has helped developersmake availableon the PlayBook. That’s a far cry from the more than 140,000 iPad apps currently available.