Remember the "Bring out your dead" scene in the movie "Monty Python and the Holy Grail"? Where the old man argues that he's not dead yet as the local body collector passes through the medieval English neighborhood? Well, Research in Motion, in its pursuit of developers for its BlackBerry platform, wants everyone to know that it is not dead, despite perceptions that the mobile device battle these days has narrowed down to just Apple's iOS and Google's Android.
In pitching the RIM platform recently to a roomful of Silicon Valley-based Android developers, RIM's Larry McDonough, from platform product management, acknowledged faults that he says the company has fixed. As you would expect, he also played up RIM's supposed advantages and downplayed the perceived advantages of iOS and Android. RIM is making a renewed effort to court developers as it moves to replace the current BlackBerry platform with a new one based on the QNX operating system used in the RIM PlayBook tablet.
Spinning RIM's small app store presence
McDonough tried to characterize RIM's small selection of apps in its BlackBerry App World store as a positive for developers. App World has about 46,000 apps compared to about 500,000 in Apple's App Store and 300,000 in Google's Android Market. "If you subtract all the duplicates, you're really talking about 30,000 to 40,000 apps" each in rival stores, he claimed. For example, Apple's store has 900 Solitaire applications and Android has 1,200, he said, quoting a recent PC World article. "It's cool that they have so much and I guess that's important, but we have a couple of kick-ass Solitaire apps."
He also claimed that developers have a greater chance of making more money by supporting RIM's platform than the rivals' because developers were more likely to make money in App World than the App Store or Android Market. His reasoning: Roughly 13 percent of BlackBerry developers make more than $100,000 on the platform, he said. He did not cite comparables for the App Store or Android Market, but he suggested a smaller percentage of developers on those platforms make that kind of money.
Developers not closed to creating apps for RIM
How did McDonough's sermon resonate with the Android-oriented audience? He did gain some traction.
For example, Christian Grant, chief Droid officer at DroidOmics, which makes health care applications, noted the "great features BlackBerry has in general and also the PlayBook." He likes RIM's real-time OS capabilities. "I've already a ported a few test apps to the PlayBook, so I definitely will look into it further."
Carl Stehle, president of applications builder Appception, said, "I give them an 'A' for effort. I think they're trying very hard." But will he now build applications for RIM? "That remains to be seen," he said.
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