BlackBerry 10 development kits released, devices due by year's end
Research In Motion made its anticipated BlackBerry 10 platform available for developers at its annual conference in Orlando, Florida, this week. BlackBerry 10 devices are expected to be released by the end of the year.
The launch saw developers got their hands on an initial developer toolkit for native and HTML5 software development. Until now, only a select group of developers had access to the BlackBerry 10 platform as part of a beta test.
The toolkit includes the BlackBerry 10 Native SDK with Cascades - a native set of user interface (UI) elements designed to make it easier to customize standard events such as a touch or click - the BlackBerry Developers blog run down is here.
The Native SDK provides APIs and IDE tools including the Scoreloop SDK 2.0 for social gaming kit, Push Management, Payment APIs and Battery Monitoring and LED Control support.
The toolkit also includes support for HTML5 application developers with the BlackBerry 10 WebWorks SDK.
Endomondo, Gameloft, Mippin, Occipital, PixelsMags, Osis, Truphone and Wikitude were among the developers at BlackBerry World that participated in the BlackBerry 10 beta test.
"RIM has got it right with the BlackBerry 10 platform. They have really streamlined the app-development process," said Adam Linford, Truphone head of labs and mobile applications in a statement on Tuesday. "The platform's support for open-source components flattens the learning curve enabling us to build a new application quickly and cost-effectively and have it ready to go with the first BlackBerry 10 devices debut."
The new platform is crucial for a company that's been losing market share to Apple and Android-based devices. Many analysts have complained that the browser isn't good, and that there are few apps compared to the iOS and Android platforms. "Their platform is behind and dated, and with each passing quarter they are that much further behind," said Wayne Lam, senior analyst of wireless communications at HIS iSuppli.
"RIM has been losing serious business in the last several years. When the Apple iPhone and Google Android hit the market, RIM suddenly looked like your dear old grandpa. You may love him, but he is no longer with it," said analyst Jeff Kagan. "RIM is in the process of trying to reinvent itself and recover."
To rebuild its market share, RIM has some stiff goals. "RIM must focus on two things with their devices," said Kagan. "They must improve their web browser and they must get tons of Apps on the new BlackBerry 10 when it is launched later this year."
BlackBerry 10 will need to get support of developers in order to create an app-filled platform to attract users again. RIM is hard at work building the community.
"Developers can use this first beta of the tools to get started building apps for BlackBerry 10 and as the tools evolve over the coming months, developers will have access to a rich API set that will allow them to build even more integrated apps," said Christopher Smith, vice president of handheld application platform and tools at RIM, in a statement. "The toolkit we are delivering today also meets developers on their own terms. Whether using the powerful Cascades framework, writing direct native code or developing in HTML5, BlackBerry 10 will empower developers to create attractive and compelling apps that excite customers."
It was originally said that RIM would have its next generation platform out by early 2012, but RIM is now saying the BlackBerry 10 platform will be out by the end of the year, or as early as August.
And the new devices? The devices RIM used to show off the platform at BlackBerry World this week were reference devices that it will make available to developers, but will never be sold in stores - although certain features, such as a soft keyboard, will make it to stores on new devices.
Below is the company's "BlackBerry 10 Sneak Peek" from the BlackBerry World 2012 Keynote.Source: BlackBerry Developer page
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That said, Apple didn't get market share by doing the same thing as RIM, nor did Google become successful simply in copying Apple's smart phone design. (As much as some recent changes in Android market annoy me both companies are clearly innovative in their own right.) RIM isn't going to cut back into the market with a "decent" browser and "some more" apps. They need to have something else, like bulletproof security, bulk corporate pricing, or truly amazing battery life - or something I haven't even thought of (a full 3D OS? 100Mp Camera? Waterproof to 100m? Color e-ink? Freedom from contracts (in the US)?)
If I were a developer, I wouldn't waste my time, and if I ran RIM, I would put my effort into building something truly amazing instead of playing catch-up. Otherwise, they may as well see if they can get a good price from Microsoft for an acquisition.