RIM Denies Developer Exodus

Research In Motion's Alec Saunders Friday fired back at reports suggesting developers no longer care about BlackBerry OS.

How IT Views RIM's Future: Exclusive Research
How IT Views RIM's Future: Exclusive Research
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Alec Sauders, head of Research In Motion's developer program, Friday admitted to being taken aback by reports that developers are losing interest in the BlackBerry platform. "I was pretty shocked by the findings," he said. "I was shocked because the numbers in the report do not gel with what we're seeing in the real world. The report contradicts much of what we are seeing and hearing in our developer community."

From his perspective, the developer exodus simply isn't the case, so what's going on?

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A recent report from Baird Equity Research suggested that app creators don't see a bright future for BlackBerry 7 nor BlackBerry 10. The question Baird put to developers was "How do you view the long-term outlook for the following platforms?" Baird gave developers a scale of one to 10--poor to excellent--on which they could rate their long-term view of today's slew of mobile operating systems.

BlackBerry 10's prospects fell from 4.6 during the first quarter of the year to 3.8 in the second. BlackBerry 7's prospects sank from 3.8 in the first quarter to 2.8 in the second. In contrast, Google's Android platform scored an 8.7 and Apple's iOS scored a 9.3. It's noteworthy that developers' outlook for every single platform--with the exception of iOS--dropped at least a little bit, including Android.

[ Read RIM CEO Faces Investors, Charts Path To BB10. ]

Baird explained in its report that "31% of sampled BlackBerry 10 developers said that they have shifted some or all of their work away from BB10, compared with 34% in Q1. This is the second quarter in which we have seen fewer responders indicating that they will shift some of their work away from BlackBerry. We believe that many developers who planned to jump ship have already made the move, leaving a BlackBerry developer base that is smaller but increasingly loyal."

In other words, Baird believes that those who were never all that faithful to just BlackBerry OS have packed their bags and headed for greener OS pastures. Developers still committed to BlackBerry OS aren't going anywhere.

Despite this conclusion, the spin on the article suggested that developers are abandoning the BlackBerry platform in droves. This is not the case, said Saunders.

"In the past year our BlackBerry App World vendor base has grown 157%," wrote Saunders in a blog post. "The BlackBerry 10 Jam World Tour we are currently hosting in 23 cities across the globe has seen over capacity registration in almost every city, including New York, Santa Clara, Toronto, Jakarta, Singapore, Delhi, and Montreal. We have already spoken to almost 5,000 developers and the feedback has been phenomenal.

"I have been receiving a lot of feedback from developers personally and I can tell you that I am hearing again and again that developers are amazed by how easy it is to work with the BlackBerry 10 tools. They appreciate the open nature of our platform, which allows developers to bring their work and their skills and find a toolset that will work for them. The other thing I hear consistently is that RIM simply treats developers better than anyone else in the mobile industry. That is music to my ears!"

Of course, RIM is going to try to do some damage control and say the Baird report is contradictory. Saunders' comments are light on tangibles, but you can't mistake his enthusiasm and belief in what he and RIM are doing.

Saunders' comments also mesh with what RIM CEO Thorsten Heins has said about developer and carrier feedback about BB10. Everyone who's seen it appears to like it.

Too bad most of us haven't seen it.

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