RIM pushes to have 70,000 apps available for BlackBerry 10's launch

Canadian firm does '180' with developer community, says RIM official

A key to the success of BlackBerry 10 will be the availability of consumer and enterprise apps when the smartphone hits the market on Jan. 30.

Research in Motion (NASDAQ: RIMM) has been working hard to get those apps ready, supplying over 7,000 BlackBerry 10 prototypes to developers well ahead of that date, according to Vivek Bhardwaj, RIM's head of software portfolio.

The company has set the goal of having at least 70,000 apps available for the new BlackBerry 10 at launch, he said.

Bhardwaj acknowledged that the BlackBerry platform has not been the most app developer friendly. "We have done almost a 180 with the developer community. Historically, we weren't the easiest platform to develop for. Our tools were proprietary, not easy to learn, and we weren't very upfront with developers in terms of the support they needed and the things they needed to look out for," he admitted to FierceMobileIT.

"With BlackBerry 10, we have given them hardware upfront. The developer environment is open ... and there are common tools that are not created in any way that would prohibit developers from learning them quickly," Bhardwaj said.

The RIM official said that developing apps for BlackBerry is "more profitable" than developing apps for other platforms. He explained that "developers today are struggling to profit" on competing platforms because of the competition and volume of apps in those marketplaces.

To make the pot sweeter, RIM has committed to ensure that developers can make at least $10,000 in the first year of BlackBerry 10 being on the market.

"If a developer creates a Super App and within the first 12 months makes at least $1,000, we will meet that to $10,000. If you are a developer and you made $2,000 in the first year and you developed a certified Super App, we will meet you the rest of the way to $10,000. So you are guaranteed $10,000," Bhardwaj explained.

RIM defines a Super App as one that offers a "seamless, integrated, contextualized and efficient experience" for the user.

Jeff Holleran, RIM's senior director of enterprise product management, added that RIM is working with enterprise app developers to ensure they can use their enterprise-specific apps, such as workflow, on BlackBerry 10. "There has been a lot of interest among the enterprise developer community in BlackBerry 10," he told FierceMobileIT.

To assist enterprise app developers, RIM recently launched its BlackBerry Partners for Enterprise portal to ensure application and ecosystems partners are ready for the new mobile computing platform. The portal is designed for software vendors, content providers, developers and IT resellers, providing them with self-service access to tools, information and resources, as well as a way to communicate with the RIM team

In addition, RIM has built Runtime into the BlackBerry 10, which brings the "long tail" of Android applications into the platform, explained Bhardwaj. Runtime allows Android apps that developers have repackaged, signed and submitted to BlackBerry App World to run on the BlackBerry 10 smartphone.

"The Android developers are bringing their apps across and having a look at what else they can do with the platform in the native environment," Bhardwaj noted.

RIM has also been looking at the top 200 to 250 applications in each of its major markets and identifying partners to develop those apps for BlackBerry 10.

"This is a much more aggressive approach" to app development than traditionally taken by RIM, Bhardwaj concluded.

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