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Alec Saunders talks BlackBerry 10 on NBC's Press:Here

By Adam Zeis on 12 Apr 2013 01:11 pm EDT
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Alec Saunders, VP of Developer Relations at BlackBerry, took some time out this week to sit down with NBC's Press:Here. In a roundtable discussion, Alec talked a bit about his role and how BlackBerry gets developers to create apps for BlackBerry 10. He explains that they help entice developers by providing a plethora of tools for porting and creating applications, even if developers are coming from other platforms. 

He also notes that beginning with BlackBerry Jam last may, they have seeded over 40,000 devices to developers and made trips to 44 countries for Jam sessions to spread the word about BlackBerry 10.

Check out the full interview in the video below and stay tuned as we too got to chat with Alec and ask him some of your burning questions. 

66 comments

EauRouge

teachers make good flight attendants!

Abrante

Alec "convince developers to develop". That he will do, give it time :)

kill_9

Time is not a friend to BlackBerry. Alec needs to bring developers to BlackBerry 10.

Posted via CB10 from the BlackBerry Z10

mathking606

Very True. If I was BlackBerry instead of spending cash on marketing that will have less impact, I go to Hulu, Netflix, Pandora, Spotify and all the others and pay for them to develop a native app even if they will not support it regularly. People are more impressed from knowing these apps are there than seeing a 30 second keep moving ad about the keyboard.

RP Singh

See no "Video below " on CB app on z10. Yet.

Sent from my iPuh-lease-as-IF

RP Singh

Here is the video link for those who don't see the video from the CB10 app:

http://www.viddler.com/v/cbffec7a?secret=93419348

RocPlayr

Keep up the good work Alec!

Driftdreams

Pretty good interview. He answered every question with confidence and honesty.

birdman_38

"Spotify? I'm not sure about whether they're coming or not." How could he be unsure?

Mr Gill

Really like this, they weren't trying to put down Blackberry but actually asked valid questions and tried to keep a neutral perspective.

lang007

I agree with you on that

iririr

where is his phone....how come he doesn't show what peek is...

jzacuto

How is his answer at 7:01 about Spotify and Hulu acceptable? Why aren't more people holding BlackBerry accountable for this gap in streaming media apps?

j21jam6

You can't force developers to build an app for BlackBerry. People should understand "what" the real issue is, as explained in the opening of the interview. Get a clue Einstein.

Sent from my loooong waited for BlackBerry Z10

JPSKILLZ

"Sent from my looooong awaited Blackberry Z10." LoL

G-bone

Again, a question for Marty Malick - not Alec.

#BB10Believe

jzacuto

First, good point -- this is a Marty Malick issue indeed! But Alec was asked, and Alec provided an answer. So he's now accountable for that answer.

Second, no you can't "force" someone to develop an application. But, you can throw money and resources behind building key applications yourself that you think will be drivers for the purchasing public. People want the Z10. *I* want (want back, actually) a Z10. Seriously, it's like crack and I'm an addict. But I'm more addicted to having the access to my media and colleagues.

As for being an Einstein, I'm flattered, really. I'm admittedly disconnected from the intimacy I once had with these issues and concerns, but I'm pretty confident in saying "I have a clue, but thanks."

G-bone

There is much that we are not privy to.
I understand your frustration, but these are dedicated people who have been working, and continue to work, night and day on this issue. As was said, "Chicken...Egg..."
Microsoft threw around big cash and it hasn't helped them much: some big apps went there but aren't staying, etc.
I refused to be swayed by the tyranny of apps: If they want my money, they know where to find me. If my friends don't want to use an app that I'm using then I don't need to hear from them.
At the end of the day, my freedom of choice is more important.
As has been said before : time takes time.
But I respect your choice.

#BB10Believe

BerryWizard

Microsoft teaches us that money doesn't by the big names apps. If it was that easy, then wphones will have instagram already.....

Posted via CB10

mathking606

WP actually has a lot of the big name apps and will probably get a native instagram soon while we get shit not even tweaked android ports. Go check app world now for evidence scotiabank just released their app and its an android port.(Canadian company worth billions)

blakobecwa

Oh damn I didn't know Scotiabank released an app! Thanks for the info! :)

Posted via CB10

blakobecwa

It's not an android port its native but all it is, is the Web version made into an app.

Posted via CB10

kill_9

True. But the Scotiabank application works flawlessly.

Posted via CB10 from the BlackBerry Z10

JPSKILLZ

Correct me if I'm wrong, but you can't just build an app that belongs to another company without certain permissions right?

jzacuto

Here's what I'm talking about:

http://appworld.blackberry.com/webstore/vendor/4/?countrycode=US

Facebook, Twitter, WLM, Yahoo Messenger, Google Talk... all written by RIM (BlackBerry), all distributed under RIM's vendor account.

If the app is important enough to include, they could have built it themselves in cooperation with the partner. And if the partner didn't want to cooperate, then the answer to the public should be, "We engaged with <partner>, and they had no interest in allowing us to build the app on their behalf. If you'd like to see the app, you may want to contact <partner> directly to express your interest."

This isn't rocket surgery, folks.

But before someone mentions the community-ported Netflix app, that's not a solution either. Why should I pay $600 for a device for which I have to convert apps myself, or rely on another person to convert for me?

With respect to off-market ported apps, they're also not supported. So for consumers who aren't as tech savvy as some of us, that's simply not an answer. So to say that some of these things are available as ported apps that you can download from places like apk2bar, etc. isn't an answer either.

mathking606

Actually facebook and twitter apps are made by themselves which is why they are so shit and the support is so slow. BBOS versions of these apps were a billion times better. All twitter did so far was make it look more appealing.

randall2580

As I understood it - the parts that integrate with the hub were built by BlackBerry while the parts that stand alone are android ports. The Facebook is the HTML5 app that everyone on Android hated and forced Facebook to write a native app and throw that one away. Now it's here, with us.

westex74

I thought it was interesting that Alec said Facebook and Twitter were really important, yet those are two of the more universally bad apps on the platform. They have each only been updated once, and still have a LOOOOONNNNGGG way to go.

BerryWizard

Agree with you : Facebook and Twitter need a lot of work to be on par with other platforms

Posted via CB10

XDrew42

And the least interesting of all aps. Imo. I don't use either. Want Netflix and my Suntrust app.

Posted via CB10

RubberChicken76

Pretty sure there have been a couple of updates

birdman_38

Get Facebook and Twitter to develop and app published by Facebook and Twitter respectively.

j21jam6

Good interview, much needed unbiased platform to talk about what BlackBerry is doing to attract developers and why the would want to build apps for BlackBerry.

Sent from my loooong waited for BlackBerry Z10

Zirak

I thought he did well, would have liked to see a phone out, at least sitting on the desk, red light blinking! The downside is with limited time it would prove to be a distraction.
As for Spotify, etc. If the app developer has not been approached, blame BB. If he has been approached and tools offered, it is in his court.
Many of these apps are popular now, with a good percentage being because they offer something Free. Good for generating numbers, but I have a hard time following the business model. Hopefully app developers see that although a small(er) market many BB users value people's products and purchase them.

Posted via CB10

BlackberryFan777

I thought that was a very good interview. Alec came off as likeable, reasonable, and genuinely excited about his work on behalf of BlackBerry. The question in which he was asked about particular apps on other platforms on BB10 was the only question that I thought was a little unfair, because Alec's primary job is to grow a community of developers who will someday make killer apps that other platforms will yearn for. Besides, in a world of somewhat open APIs, I don't see why having the "official app" is important or even ideal. On Android devices, for instance, 3rd party Flickr apps are much, much better than the official app from Flickr/Yahoo. Until very recently that was the case with iOS Flickr, as well. I'd like to see superior "Built for BlackBerry" clients for many of the services Alec was asked about rather than somewhat more cross-platform and conservative looking designs from the official developers.

I was wondering, though, aside from built-in Remember, is there an Evernote BB10 app? I mean, I know the very awesome Android app can be sideloaded, but Evernote didn't show up in BBWorld last time I checked.

j21jam6

Yes Evernote us built into BB10.

Sent from my loooong waited for BlackBerry Z10

G-bone

Alec was good and they weren't dinks - all-in -all a good day.

#BB10Believe

RubberChicken76

They did have the perma-sneer that US media sometimes has when interviewing BlackBerry execs but they loosened up. The woman especially.

BB_Bmore

I have no idea what Alec's salary is but I can assur you he's not paid what he's worth. I also think he should head the keynotes instead of Thor. Thor is good but Alec is very very good with presentation.

axllebeer

I think they would be good onstage together. The combination of the 2 would make for an informative and entertaining presentation.

mathking606

Yea I agree, he has more of personality where as Thor is the business guy like a Tim Cook.

Paunngaq

I thought that was a pretty good interview. As others mentioned though it would have been nice to have the phone out there.
This is just a thought, more over a quesiton. How much sway does a company have on a developer not to develope for another company? For example, does Apple have a say in the developers for Netflix not to create an app for BlackBerry? I'm not saying this is the case, I just wonder why great developer houses like Gameloft and others jump right on board from the start and others seem more than reluctant to come over to our side.

Cheers,

mathking606

Its a lot easier to port a game that uses a specific library/engine which can run on BB10 with nearly all the same code such as open gl and unity.

hamletz90

SHUT THE HELL UP ABOUT THE MUSIC VIDEO. TALK ABOUT THE PHONE AND ITS APPS!

HarryLime

Yeah I wonder if Alec regrets the videos, The audience wasn’t the general public but that’s not how its portrayed.

mathking606

I heard tech crunch and went oh noooo!!!

axllebeer

He should very said Netflix isn't "officially" there yet as we know it can now be done. It's just not in App World yet. Good I ter view overall though.

tranceboy_johny

im heart broken :( no spotify ... n4bb article was fake, probably just to get people's attention -___-

Thunderbuck

Alec is one of the best hires BB could be made. Remember that he came from Microsoft, the company that at least used to represent the gold standard for developer engagement.

His dev evangelist team has turned around a platform that was widely considered the worst in the business and actually made it viable.

Posted via CB10

RubberChicken76

Yeah - he's probably my favorite speaker too, of all of them. Always very personable and fun. And while it's easy to complain about the work he still has to do, the reality is that his approach is entirely different than the people before him. Remember - under those guys, PlayBook launched with 3,000 apps. Under Alec, Z10 launched with 70,000 and went over 100,000.

He's definitely made a ton of progress, even if there's a lot more to be done.

md03wx

Alec mentioned Rdio (as a spotify replacement) again but from what Rdio is saying they haven't yet committed to BB10.

mathking606

Rdio has committed but just taking a long time and this could be for various reasons (marketing maybe). Funny though because it will probably end up being another android port.

Supa_Fly1

Why would you say that RDio would be an Android port? They've already committed and currently, BBWorld's media offerings is brought to us by that same company.os likely the delay is regulatory, not lacking in skills to develop the app.

Posted via CB10

abwan11

Excellent interview, and we'll done Alec, clear and honest.

Supa_Fly1

I see no video in this post using the CB10 app. Is it possible that the youtube video is using flash which I don't have enabled on my z10's browser?

I have to instead use thé three buttons menu and select open in browser to view it so this negates my initial thought.

Posted via CB10

ksoroch

By referring to corporate developers as those guys who "Work 9 to 4" does not win any friends in my community (corporate developers). Our needs are different than the "Hackers" but we are needed if BlackBerry is to succeed. Don't stop what you are doing but embrace us equally or the sale in the enterprise will fail

Posted via CB10

ofutur

Luring developers onto a new platform is one thing, but keeping them happy is another and BlackBerry is not doing a good job atm.
- The platform is crippled by both critical bugs and lack of basic smartphone functionalities like headless apps.
- When trying to get 50-100k apps ready for launch, you have to get a large team in place, with PROPER training. Taking 1 month+ to vet apps in unacceptable. They should have learned from the PlayBook fiasco.
- Convincing devs to develop for your platform to later kick them out of your app store is just pathetic.

birdman_38

The host is obviously a huge Apple fan. He didn't acknowledge Android or even Windows Phone once. Apparently it's a one-horse race.

randall2580

Frankly speaking I think Alec gets more credit than he deserves, but I am hoping to eat my words over time. Alec is supposed to woo the small/independent dev who will finally use the tools BB gives them to make the app that comes to BB first and put his group on the map, while Marty tries to woo the guys who's names you know and love on other platforms.

I haven't seen yet, in my little short of 3 weeks time with the phone, the app that WOWs me about QNX and Cascades, etc. I know Alec has brough numbers - just like they did for PlayBook but the vast majority of these apps I don't see as having much value other than adding to the numbers.

I would love to see the app that looks, plays, feels better than the Android or iOS counterparty. Or the app that was "made for BlackBerry" and shows it off. I want the app I show my friends and say - this is why you come back to BlackBerry. I haven't see it yet

Rootbrian

Saunders kicks ass!! :D

Estevan_77

BlackBerry 10 its bad ass but needs apps like Android and I phone to compete all the apps the app world has 98% of them r useless

Posted via CB10

Estevan_77

How r u going to make a really good phone and not add what people want witch is the apps to make the phone better Skype Pandora temple run