Believe in BlackBerry, says RIM developer guru
Mike Kirkup explains why BlackBerry is still alive and kicking
By Al Sacco | CIO US | Published: 14:20, 16 August 2011
3) Android Player coming... soon?
One hugely anticipated feature in the BlackBerry world is The Android App Player, will allow BlackBerry PlayBook tablet users to run some Android applications.
Unfortunately, it looks like it might take longer than expected for the Android Player to become available to PlayBook owners. RIM initially said the App Player would be released sometime "this summer." But when I asked if it was still on track for a summer release, Kirkup's answer wasn't encouraging.
A number of BlackBerry developers already have access to the offering via a closed beta version, according to Kirkup, and more devs are expected to get it soon. But he would not say whether or not the Android Player will become available before fall, bad news for PlayBook users anxious for access to Android apps via RIM's tablet.
4) Why developers should keep the faith in BlackBerry
I recently outlined why I still have faith in RIM and BlackBerry, despite a rough past year or so. And, naturally, I was anxious for Kirkup's take on the subject. As a RIM employee I wasn't expecting Kirkup to express worry over the company's future. But his tone and attitude convinced me that this confidence in the BlackBerry maker is genuine.
First, I asked Kirkup why mobile developers should choose the BlackBerry platform at a time when the general mobile market perception is that the iPhone and Android have the best apps. Kirkup acknowledged the sentiment, but dismissed it as a matter of opinion.
"It's never been easier to develop a BlackBerry application," due to a refined and simplified development process, Kirkup says. And with the release of the new BlackBerry 7 devices, "there's a land-grab opportunity, a whole set of new users showing up. If you can bring [your app] out now, then you have an opportunity to really stand out."
And the potential ROI for BlackBerry apps is huge, Kirkup says, because of the vast BlackBerry customer base. Kirkup says RIM has shipped more than 150 million BlackBerry devices to date, and upwards of 45 million BlackBerry owners regularly use BBM, which should further entice developers to explore the new BBM Social tools.
Kirkup also says that the average BlackBerry user is affluent and tech savvy and, therefore, more likely to purchase applications. To that end, he cited a recent study that measured online influence, which found the average BlackBerry user to have more "Klout" than both Android and iPhone users.
And thanks to RIM's BlackBerry App World software store, BlackBerry developers have a central, easy-to-use and effective way of delivering their software to RIM's millions of BlackBerry users on countless carriers in locales across the globe, Kirkup says.
5) Why Kirkup still believes in BlackBerry
As an employee of RIM, Kirkup has unique motivation to remain confident in BlackBerry, or at least keep any doubts he may have to himself.
But when I asked him about all the doom, gloom and negative speculation in the marketplace today regarding RIM and BlackBerry, it's clear that he is truly passionate about the company and his work, and perhaps a little pained/offended by the question, looking more to focus on the positives.
Like a proud parent defending his star athlete child during a long slump, Kirkup gets slightly defensive. "Nothing has changed" for RIM and BlackBerry, he says.
The company still has a very solid foundation, Kirkup says, built on more than a decade of mobile-device-specific work in the technology industry. RIM is still the security de facto for many governments and other security-conscious organisations. It still has many, many loyal users.
And RIM is currently producing and shipping the best products it's ever offered, according to Kirkup. In fact, Kirkup thinks RIM's latest BlackBerry devices can hold their own with any other comparable handhelds on the market.
"You'd be hard put to find any device that bests the new BlackBerry Bold running the BlackBerry 7 OS right now," Kirkup says. And he thinks this will become apparent to anyone who gives a new BlackBerry 7 device a chance.