Must Read: RIM Developer Eyeing the iPhone

Sure, we're hard on the BlackBerry here at TiPb, what with its aging operating system (it still has legs, sure, but one suspects they're coming up on the limits of the OS's capabilities), its tic-tac keyboard (although, honestly, I still prefer physical keyboard myself), and its sad little browser. One thing we haven't touched on yet, though, is how RIM (like every other Smartphone company out there) has utterly missed the boat when it comes to 3rd party application developers. You probably know where this is going, but Apple's App Store may just be the biggest deal of all the big deals that have come out in the past two weeks. Lest you think we're totally biased, let us point you to this excellent essay by a (former?) BlackBerry developer: "Galileo and Apples."

What Apple has done is for the first time ever successfully given a finger to carriers and torn down walls. And the net result? Users are loving it. And so are developers. Who would’ve thought…Oh yeah, that’s right we all did! It was patently obvious to every single mobile developer that if everybody just got out of our way and let us do our thing we’d be able to drive activations (device handset sales), device stickiness, and all around there would be rejoicing and everyone would profit. But nobody would listen.
They’re listening now though.

The App Store isn't doing to grab developers just because the iPhone is going to become the #1 smartphone on the face of the planet and destroy all others in enterprise and the consumer space alike -- because let's face it, it won't. No, what the App Store does it offer developers gobs of money simply because it's the first way to purchase and download smartphone apps that doesn't stink. As Neil Sainsbury writes, most folks with even a passing familiarity with the smartphone world have long thought that the faustian pact between carriers and smartphone makers has stifled innovation, progress, and profit. Apple's App Store has proven us right.

Dieter Bohn

Dieter Bohn is former editor-in-chief of Smartphone Experts, writing across iMore, Windows Phone Central, Android Central, and more. You can find him on Twitter (and everywhere else) @backlon.

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Must Read: RIM Developer Eyeing the iPhone

4 Comments

Ever since NeXT and NeXTStep/OpenStep, Jobs has been targeting developers with very rich, very easy to use environments, objective languages, and extensive frameworks for rapid delivery.
OS X inherited all of that, and Mobile OS X is taking the easy and rapid parts to the next level (pun intended?).
JDE can't really compete short term, especially with a multitude of different OS's and form factors in the field. WinMob suffers from both Microsoft's poor environment and fragmented device base (many different OEMs with different classes of devices, ie. touch/no touch). Android is having similar hardware complications and the brouhaha over secret SDK releases to select developers won't build trust. Palm OS is going extinct and Nova is a wildcard, but the fresh start with a controlled hardware set will give them a huge advantage if they can push it forward.
And that's just the backend. App Store will get copied, for sure, but the initial gold rush of developers to the platform just to benefit from App Store now will be huge. If it keeps mind share, the potential is interesting to say the least...

It's taken Apple's competion years to go up against the iTune Store. Other companies will continue to lag behind Apple because they simply don't understand how Apple fits all of the pieces together. In the case of the iPhone it's the large screen, elegant UI, iTunes Store and Apps Store.

...is how RIM (like every other Smartphone company out there) has utterly missed the boat when it comes to 3rd party application developers

I'm sorry, but in this regard, Apple has a way to go before it gets as good as Palm. The Palm developer ecosystem is way more developed than iPhone (Apple is catching up fast, but there are still way, way more products for Palm), and even better (in my opinion) is that Treo developers don't have to say "mother may I" to Palm when they want to release an application for it. They just go ahead and release it. I'm not at all impressed by the App Store model of software distribution - more freedom, please.
Sure, iPhone beats the snot out of Treo overall, but not in this particular area. Palm devices delivered the "get out of the mobile developers way" thing a long time ago.
I'm just about to dump my Treo 650 for an iPhone, but I can't help be sad about it. Treos were an unbelievably good product back in the day.