BlackBerry dev chief Saunders: 'Users hate' BB10 apps ported from Android


BlackBerry (NASDAQ:BBRY) is urging mobile software developers to build native applications for its fledgling BlackBerry 10 operating system, warning that consumers aggressively dislike BB10 apps and games ported over from Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) rival Android platform.

Alec Saunders

Alec Saunders

The BlackBerry 10 software development kit, released late last year, includes the BlackBerry Runtime for Android, an emulation engine enabling developers to repackage apps originally written for the Google OS, a process that takes about five minutes. While most of the ports work on BlackBerry 10 smartphones, they can't access all core device features, and BlackBerry Development Head Alec Saunders told CNet that consumers are keenly aware of the difference.

"From a commercial perspective, users hate them," Saunders said. "Our partners who have ported apps get dinged for them."

There are now more than 120,000 BlackBerry 10 applications in the BlackBerry World digital storefront, an increase of 50,000 over the last four months. Roughly 20 percent of those apps are Android ports, a percentage that has remained consistent since the release of the BB10 SDK.

While BlackBerry has focused on bulking up its app catalog in recent months, Saunders said the manufacturer will now shift its focus to fostering apps that are more innovative and more effectively exploit device capabilities. He added that developer interest in the platform is increasing, in part because BlackBerry 10 leverages common Web programming technologies like HTML5 and CSS: "From what developers say, it is significantly easier," Saunders said.

BlackBerry (formerly Research In Motion) unveiled BlackBerry 10 in late January. Its flagship Z10 smartphone did not go on sale in the U.S. until two months later. BlackBerry is looking to BB10 to resuscitate user interest in its platform: Research firm Kantar Worldpanel ComTech reports that BlackBerry devices accounted for just 0.9 percent of all smartphones sold in the U.S. during the first quarter of 2013, far off the pace established by Android and Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone.

On Tuesday, BlackBerry unveiled BlackBerry 10.1, the operating system's first point-release update. BB10.1, scheduled to roll out to Z10 units across all carrier partners over the coming weeks, touts a series of messaging and photo enhancements. This summer, BlackBerry also will port its signature BlackBerry Messenger chat service to iOS and Android, enabling BBM users to interact across multiple mobile operating systems. BlackBerry is planning native BBM for both platforms.

For more:
- read this CNet article

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