QNX app submissions explode to show promise for BlackBerry 10 ecosystem


ORLANDO, Fla.--The number of new submissions to Research in Motion for QNX apps has grown by 240 percent this year, according to details revealed to FierceMobileIT at an exclusive one-on-one meeting with Andrew Bocking, RIM's senior vice president of software product management. This explosive growth is showing up in the BlackBerry PlayBook app store, but it's critical to the success of BlackBerry 10. "Existing PlayBook apps will work on BlackBerry 10," Bocking said. Those that don't already have the necessary changes will only need slight modifications to work on RIM's new device. "Those need to adapt to a slightly smaller screen and to portrait-first orientation," he said.

Bocking said that the changes required to make those existing apps work properly on the BlackBerry 10 devices when they arrive are very minor. While Bocking would not reveal the number of BlackBerry 10 apps he expects to see when the first devices launch, he did say that the number was substantial. He also indicated that the BlackBerry 10 would launch with a far larger app ecosystem than Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) enjoyed with Windows Phone 7.

"We're going to have a really strong overall product offering" Bocking said. He added that developers are encouraged by RIM's (NASDAQ: RIMM) efforts at "avoiding the problems with Android in terms of monetizing apps and in preventing piracy." He said that the fact that the BlackBerry 10 market is much greater than just what's on the PlayBook, but rather on a portfolio of devices, is also drawing great interest from the developer community.

"We're seeing demand and interest grow and grow," Bocking said. "Developers are seeing the opportunity to make money on the platform." Bocking said that BlackBerry users have shown a willingness to pay for their apps, something he said has proven to be a problem especially for Android. He noted that because BlackBerry devices have very large user communities globally, RIM is seeing a lot of interest in developers who want to target a large environment of users.

Bocking said that the QNX portfolio is also gaining interest from developers, as is RIM's exploration of licensing BlackBerry OS 10 for use in other devices including in embedded systems and the automotive market. "QNX has a strong brand in the embedded space," Bocking said, noting that the company is now a wholly owned subsidiary of RIM.

Bocking noted that RIM is making other changes in the way it gets support for its app ecosystem. "We are treating our external developers well by making sure they have early access," he said. Developers who attended BlackBerry Jam, which was happening concurrently with BlackBerry World, and which was also in Orlando, each got a prototype BlackBerry 10 device to use for development.

RIM's new focus on efficiency in the organization is also helping spur development, Bocking said. In the past, he said, "we had consensus without action." Now he said that the development organization had instituted a high level of accountability. "We have a very clear laser focused decision making," Bocking said. "There's no question about who is doing what. We're treating it as one big experience." He said that RIM's efforts are already paying off. "We had our best ever quarter last quarter for app submission ever."

While Bocking was unwilling to release specific numbers, he did say that the company has learned from the missteps of the PlayBook launch as well as lessons from launches from other companies. He said that RIM was focused on avoiding those problems, and would only launch BlackBerry 10 when it was completely ready and had the right app ecosystem to be successful. Currently the first BlackBerry 10 devices are expected to appear in the fourth quarter of 2012.

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