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BlackBerry’s Alliance Program takes my breath away – and not in a good way

A big attraction for BlackBerry users is the BIS (data) network and the way BlackBerry contracts are structured so that access to the network is charged at a flat and fairly low rate. As a result users feel they are getting unlimited mobile internet access cheaply.

Given Apple’s hold on the mobile app market and BlackBerry’s apparent desperation  to attract developers you would think that providing developers with easy access to the BIS network in their apps would be a given for BlackBerry. Unfortunately and to my amazement, this is not the case.

To gain approved (there are unapproved ways) access to the BIS network, you need to be a member of the BlackBerry Alliance Program in the associate tier. Sounds easy enough? Not quite… In addition to paying $2000 a year, to be an associate tier member you need to earn 45 member points; which can be earned in the following ways, many of which border on ridiculous:

ActivityPoint Assignment
Revenue Impacting
Influenced Revenues0-10 per quarter
Desired Behaviour
Customer References (limit to 2 per year)5 per submission
Valid Case Study (limit to 1 per year per partner, only if approved by RIM)10
Completed Competency (through Certifications, see Certification Requirements)10
Events
Sponsorship of RIM Organized Event (maximum points awawrded each year is 10)10 per sponsorship
Company representation at the BlackBerry Developer Conference5
Company representation at WES5
Company representation at Alliance Summit (either North American or European)5
Completion of Alliance Member Survey3
Promoting BlackBerry Alliance Membership on your organization’s website5
Requirements Completed
Submit quarterly activations or PIN numbers2 per quarter
Up-to-date company profile and contacts2
Up-to-date solution submission for RIM distribution2
Sales tools submitted for RIM distribution2

Giving points out for conference attendance and sponsorship smacks of desperation to me; and from a development houses point of view the rest look about as attractive to earn as writing Symbian apps. Companies don’t want users of their BlackBerry apps to be charged for data; and so when they have the choice of putting an iPhone app out or a BlackBerry app; this plays a major factor in helping them make that decision.

After numerous grumbles such as mine above, RIM has claimed that the BIS access will move down to the free, ‘0 member points required’ tier of the program. I asked them in January when this change would happen, to which they said February. Well, tomorrow is April and I still haven’t heard anything…

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