Blackberry has released a video showing off some of their new Blackberry 6 interface features. To be honest, it looks like a nice interface, almost a combination of Android and iPhone. The advert is a bit cheesy. I would mind playing around with it for a bit.
Although it happened last week already, I’ve been busy on some other platforms and so only came across the updated BlackBerry developer tools release today since its time for me to start on a couple of our BlackBerry projects.
The improvements focus on their Web and Java tools and the one that really caught my eye was the updated release of the Eclipse plugin – previous versions of the plugin had some pretty annoying limitations (debugging on the device was a pain, simulator restarted on each application reload), many of which BlackBerry indicate have now been resolved.
This is certainly a step in the right direction in BlackBerry’s fight to gain developers and a greater share of the mobile app market, although I still maintain that their development environment and documentation (I admit this is thorough but quite hard to navigate through) is a few steps behind some of the other big guns. Although a Mac version of the plugin and restructuring that partner programme would go a long way in winning my vote…
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:
|Influenced Revenues||0-10 per quarter|
|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|
|Sponsorship of RIM Organized Event (maximum points awawrded each year is 10)||10 per sponsorship|
|Company representation at the BlackBerry Developer Conference||5|
|Company representation at WES||5|
|Company representation at Alliance Summit (either North American or European)||5|
|Completion of Alliance Member Survey||3|
|Promoting BlackBerry Alliance Membership on your organization’s website||5|
|Submit quarterly activations or PIN numbers||2 per quarter|
|Up-to-date company profile and contacts||2|
|Up-to-date solution submission for RIM distribution||2|
|Sales tools submitted for RIM distribution||2|
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…