The benefits of RIM’s expanded App Ecosystem

BlackBerry PlayBook
By Adam Zeis on 6 Apr 2011 12:06 pm EDT

The announcement that the BlackBerry PlayBook would support Android applications was a big one - no question. However some of the details were/are still up in the air for a lot of users, both consumers and developers. While we may not have all our answers until we actually try things out on our own, Inside BlackBerry has shed some light on things and how it will benefit both developers and consumers. Some good stuff in here that helps clear things up a bit, but you can be sure we'll answer all your questions once we have our hands on a PlayBook (bring on April 19th!!). Keep reading for more on what the expanded ecosystem means for you.

RIM's expanded App Ecosystem: the benefits for customers and developers  

From Inside BlackBerry

What does this announcement mean for Customers?

For both consumer and business customers, this announcement reinforces our commitment to providing choice while bolstering our platform. Our customers will benefit from having access to highly optimized and integrated apps developed specifically for the BlackBerry® PlayBookTM tablet using BlackBerry tools, as well as a much bigger catalog of apps drawing from multiple other sources, such as the Adobe® Flash® and Adobe® AIR®, HTML5 and JavaScript® developer communities (as previously announced) - and now the Android developer community. And this is all being done through our BlackBerry App World storefront to manage the app discovery and download processes for consumers.

We are already hearing overwhelmingly positive customer feedback about the greater choice and flexibility that our broad approach will allow: the best apps built for the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet coupled with the "long tail" of apps built for the above-mentioned BlackBerry JDE and Android platforms.

What does this mean for Developers?

  • For the majority of developers, the way to go is still the BlackBerry platform and the widened set of tools we've made available. Only these can ensure that the developer harnesses the full power of the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet in terms of extremely rich graphics, full multitasking, and ultrafast processing. BlackBerry smartphone development options include the BlackBerry® WebWorksTM platform. BlackBerry WebWorks offers leading HTML5, CSS3 and JavaScript support on a mobile platform. The BlackBerry WebWorks platform also supports modern web frameworks such as Sencha, PhoneGap, jQuery and Dojo.
  • BlackBerry PlayBook tablet development options currently include BlackBerry WebWorks as well as Adobe® (Flash® and AIR®).
  • RIM will add full tooling support for native C/C++ development for the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet over the coming months. We're highly confident about this. The QNX team RIM acquired to develop our BlackBerry Tablet OS has won awards for its Eclipse-based native Integrated Development Environment ("IDE").

Because of the app players we're providing, if there are developers currently developing for the Android platform, they can now rapidly move onto our platform while they evaluate our other development paths. We can now offer such developers an on-ramp to package and distribute their apps to our growing customer base of consumers, enterprises and governments.

Going forward, we will continue to evolve our various development technologies to deliver the most powerful, flexible and open experiences for developers whether they choose to build with HTML5, Java®, Adobe Flash, Adobe AIR, or native C/C++. And for those developers using our BlackBerry platform tools, we will continue to offer access to a growing set of on-device API's to enable best-in-class integration with core BlackBerry applications and features (which we call "Super App" experiences). We are also planning to provide a range of advanced cloud-based services including the BlackBerry Payment and Advertising Services, advanced location-based services, application analytics, and powerful Push services. Stay tuned for more details on these future release plans.

Final Thoughts

We believe we are the most committed of any mobile platform to providing both our customers and developers with uncompromised solutions, characterized by offering choice, open standards and tools, and the opportunities to build and enjoy deeply integrated Super App experiences to take advantage of all that the BlackBerry platform has to offer.

We will continue to share more information in the coming weeks so that BlackBerry developers and customers can make informed choices. And stay tuned for more partner announcements along with some exciting details that we will share at the BlackBerry WorldTM conference in early May.

- Jim Tobin, SVP of the Software, Services & Enterprise Markets business unit at RIM

Adam Zeis Adam Zeis "Mobile Nations Content Strategist" 3740 (articles) 2892 (forum posts)

Reader comments

The benefits of RIM’s expanded App Ecosystem


We won't know if the Android apps are going to work well until the PlayBook comes out in the first quarter of 2011.... oh wait's the "benfits"'s like a benefit, but it "fits" and it has a name, "ben"...whoa, I just sorta creeped myself out there...

Would have rather that RIM approached some of the key Android developers and showed them how to easily port their Apps to RIM, and release them as RIM Apps.

Instead of making it look like the Playbook and future BB devices... are versions of Android devices.

I'm a big booster of RIM, but I had a horrible experience this morning. A colleague brought his iPad2 to work and a friend of mine and long time Blackberry user said he was really thinking about getting one because the iPad2 can display and mark up adobe files.

I told him to wait the PlayBook is just so much better, and he looked at me like I was a fool. To him the PlayBook is a Blackberry and will have the same OS as Blackberry phones. I tried to explain that it was different and so much more powerful and he and others just laughed at me.

I wonder if RIM realizes the hill they have to climb even among Blackberry phone owners let a lone users of other phones.

We are now less than two weeks out and not a peep from RIM as far as marketing goes. I think they are sadly mistaken over the degree of marketing they are going to have to put on for this thing.

To tell you the truth I even doubt what I'm saying about the Playbook, have I been sucked in? If RIM thinks the product is so good would they put so little into marketing it?

I just feel like they are losing customers left right and center as the iPad2makes it out into the real world and they should be advertising now to preempt these losses and to CORRECT the mis-perception that this is just a big Blackberry phone.

No haters please I've had enough for today. Thanks.

I typically ask people the following question: "What do you think the iPad can do, that the PlayBook can't?" I'm inevitably given a blank stare, because they can't think of one thing.

Marketing Silence: I've been wondering about this myself, and I've got a couple of ideas rolling around about it. Marketing plans are laid out well ahead of product launch and are typically heavily involved projects. I suspect that the WiFi model was targeted at the Enterprise market, which they don't have to fight as hard for. And because of that, the primary public marketing campaign will be aimed at the PlayBook 4G (WiMax, LTE and HSPA+) models. If they unload all the marketing guns at the retail consumer now, they may experience a negative backlash when buyers come out to buy a 4G version (regardless if only a WiFi model is being marketed) and none exist. I could be way off, but that's my current thinking.

We will see a invite by rim by the end of week announcing to "Join them April 12/13 to see the playbook....." At the event (either in SF or NYC) will officially present the playbook. It will be a big event, and then the marketing will begin going strong up until and thru launch on April 19.

So just chill, its coming and its going to be big!!!!!

The invite will be sent out to all the usual suspects: tech blogs, websites, big media, etc.... Its going to be a big event. All the "surprises" will be revealed. Get ready!!!! CB will be rocking next week!!!!

Not like I am seeing Ipad2 commercials everywhere either....

I wonder if RIM will do a huge marketing push when Hockey Playoffs start. Go Playbook Go!

You might be right, but I sure hope not. If there is even a whiff of news that this thing (wifi) is not selling well, the playbook will be dead long before 4g versions come out. For most consumers it'll be, not selling well? Must be a shitty product.

I think most of iPad and iPad2 sales are just people saying wow if people line up for this it must be good.

So much of things like apps development and hesitant consumers really depends on buzz (which to me is the only reason why Apple has success at all) and RIM seems to be doing their best to create no buzz at all around what is likely the most important product they have made since their first phones.

As I said I'm very positive to Blackberry products, but as we inch closer to the release date for the Playbook I'm beginning to think the whole company is in complete disarray.

I was so excited when the Playbook was announced because I thought it was a signal that they had turned the corner. Although I've ordered the Playbook, I'm now more excited about the new Bold touch phone than the Playbook.

However now I'm thinking RIM will again (1) announce Bold touch at Blackberry World - the only people that follow that now already know about it so no news. (2) announce release date at the end of August when everyone could care less about the phone since it has been "out" sooooo long, and all the news cycle will go to iPhone 5. :(

I Should add that I'm still hoping that I'm totally wrong.

Hey Kiddo gently step back, away from the ledge. Its going to be a very strong product from Rim. It will sell quite a bit more than the analysts are modeling, . Will it sell as many as the ipad for 2011, no. It doesnt have to to be a big winner for Rim. The comparisons in the media that you hear "iphone/ipad killer" is just garbage the bloggers/media write. Next week you shall see

Thanks, I'm not looking for an iPad killer either. I just got thrown for a loop today when my friend, and loyal blackberry user, said he was going for the iPad and just plain didn't believe me that the Playbook was good. That was really disappointing.

But I trust you know something and that the marketing will truly be big.

This doesn't need to beat the iPad but does need solid performance to reap the benefits of network effects (app development etc.)

If your friend has already bought an iPad2 by the 19th, just go up to him with your PB with adobe files, email, calendar, bbm on the screen ready to go and say "Yeah, you should of waited" and walk away. =)

Oh I'll be doing that a lot. But noticed with the ipad app you can annotate the pdf files. Can't do that in Adobe reader on pc, need adobe pro, anyone know if playbook can do that out of the box?

First I would like to say that I am BB fan and ordered my playbook day one.
I think RIM will have to do some major marketing but not to the public but to the re-sellers who are talking to the buyers, many of my friends who are in the cellular business are telling me that they will not promote the playbook because they can not sign up clients on a data plan and there isn't any money (commissions) compared to other tablets with data plans.

bye bye blackberry development ecosystem. who in their right mind would bother developing native BB?
If I can write an app once in android and have it deploy to all android users and all playbook users why would I bother?

Because of this I will make sure not to purchase a single app that was only made for android. Other than Angry Birds. :)

Well despite my negativity above, I'd say it might be because you are a trained Java, or Adobe air developer and you want to program for that.

I think this will be interesting to see how rim over comes the viruses that can be embedded into the android apps. That is my only issue with integrating the android platform for blackberry. That was the reason why I did not buy a android phone when I had the chance and went with a older storm 2 9550 because I do not what the hassle of possibility getting a virus on my phone.

I assume it'll be the same as contracting a windows virus in vmware on the mac, since it's just a separate kernel. Unless there's some magic virus trickery involved, I think there'd be nothing a virus in the app could do to the native infrastructure of the playbook.

I have a suspicion that RIM is spreading itself too thin. The BlackBerry development experience isn't great currently and as a result, spreading your resources over 5 different SDKs is highly questionable. Not to mention, that now there's much less incentive to develop only for the BlackBerry, regardless of what RIM hopes. I suggest an alternate approach: that they focus only on WebWorks, AIR and the NDK, and EOL the BB Java platform.

Rim should do what Detroit Public Schools do, in comparison to other districts in Michigan, when you start out at Detroit you make and have the potential to make more than any other district, that is what brings teachers in here, then of course it eventually levels off, but by that time you have so much tenure, you have no interest in leaving and starting off at the bottom of the totem poll.

Rim should give developers that same incentive, look, we know we have the smallest market and we are aware that people don't feel BB is IN. So we will give you say 95% of the profits from your first app, then 90 for your second, up until it levels off to 70, which is what itunes gives you 70 cents for the dollar, is that what apps do too?

A simple startup incentive for people to go to the userbase that installs the least amount of apps and has the lowest perception of them as well.

What RIM should do is demonstrate that you don't need 200,000 apps to have a decent app "eco system".

An open competition of apps is whats needed. Sponsored by RIM with a few prizes.

Create some buzz and kill this complete app stupidity once and for all.

Most apps are just clones of some other app. There are notable apps that people come to love (Angry Birds comes to mind), but otherwise the quantity of apps means absolutely nothing.

There are 25,000 BlackBerry apps, and even if I download one a day for the rest of my life I still wouldn't run out of app options. Let alone 200,000.

Demonstrate than anyone that thinks otherwise is a blithering idiot, and the marketing will take care of itself. No one wants to be thought of as dumb, even though most of us really are dumb.

And by the way, how come existing BlackBerry Java developers are now the poor relations and last to the Playbook table? The earlier comment is right, why go through the pain of Java app development for BB if you're treated like the poor relation.

I read some comments here on why RIM isn't marketing this, announced so long ago, its due in 2 weeks, yet people are still confused about what it is, the average consumer knows very little about it, we don't even know who is developing for this and how many develoeprs there are (android porting is great, but more on that later), and i realized soemthing from all this. A major difference between apple and RIM. Apple fully backs its products (apart from very few of their failures such as initial apple tv, which they could afford to linger on due to lack of competition and also being a pet project), it goes all in, when it wants to do it well, it does it. Started with the ipods, then the touch, then iphone, then ipad. Yes sure it drops support after couple of years, but overall its maxed out the full potential of its products as much as possible and not dissapointed consumers in what to expect.

RIM on the other hand with their playbook strategy stands in stark contrast. For example, started the storm initiative, never developed to full potential, then dropped it. With the playbook, it seems RIM is almost gearing itself basically to use its first foray into this market as a test lab. Its going to experiment on you, me, and everybody else that buys it, and if its not successful, it will come up with a new one in 4 months, and if it works, then great. But its all circular, apple is so popular because it builds the hype, everybody knows what they're getting, and then they stick to it. They get developers on board. They know when they release it they have to stick with it. RIM on the other hand, like I said, is testing the waters, which is unfair to consumers, and hurtful to RIM in the long term. Instead of building maybe even half a dozen or a dozen good developers, and gathering momentum from there, they've almost copped out and introduced a shortcut, which i appreciate, but doesn't inspire much faith. I was already dissapointed in blackberries after 5 years of use due to clack of consistent updates to software or fixing issues other than very glaring ones. Which is why i jumped to the iphone. I already have an ipad and love it, but thought i'd give it a try. If RIM abandons this half way through, im not touching another RIM product ever again.

Zank, you work for Ijobs?

RIM may be a bit wobbly at times, and aren't we all nowadays, but lets talk about apple's "fixes" of problems. Antenna much? How about their dreadful OS upgrades where all your apps lose their folders or it "times out" and you have to resuscitate it?

How about their godforsaken 80-page agreement that you have to accept to six times a year, and right in the middle of updating?

Lets relax that RIM isn't a vaporware hype cult of personality shop shooting a marketing wad the size of George Orwell classics at the world. In fact, lets salute them. I don't want to be seen with my new Berry and seem like some ad-driven consumerwipe fanboy. The down low is actually the hip way to market, from the ground up.

This product has to succeed at a decent level, a very decent level. No way on earth this is some lab shot where they have little or nothing to lose. How can you be serious? Have you never been in business? A first generation is what it is, but it's the only chance to make a first impression and given all the apple tools that buy anything they put out and defend irrationally, RIM knows it must deliver--and not on teevee... but in your hands.

Moreover, why not wait a fortnight and try the thing before you pop off?

Most of all, glad you are enjoying the max-I-pad and the iSmudge. The app developers pimping your data are right on board with ya.

wow dude, no need to be so insecure about your selection of gadget that at the first sign of any criticism the first thing that comes to your mind is if i work for apple, or lick steve jobs bum and fanboy and i-pad and ismudge. very original. The reason i had my comment above was because I infact I am in the business of businesses, i.e. x-i banking current hedge fund. So now that we have that out of the way, lets keep any personal affiliations out of this and keep this about the business model and the case in point, the playbook.

My critique was not about the playbook itself, in fact it looks super capable, well designed software, good hardware, and my only issue with it in regards to the playbook itself is i would have preferred a larger 10 inch screen rather than a 7 inch. Is your biggest issue with apple that its marketed too well? That its not "hipster" enough for you. Do you select gadgets the same way you select bands, i.e. the one thats least marketed? Unfortunately, marketing based on the "down-lo" as you mention, is an art. Its not a LACK of marketing, but rather a certain way of market, and RIM certainly is not doing that. The other issues you seemed to mention were smudges, an 80 page agreement four times an year?

What i was trying to discuss was the business model of RIM in regards to the PB, and to some extent its other lineup of phones. I avoided the initial hype of iphones all the way till the 3G, until then i owned a BB bold. And then one day i tried it, and it was amazing what a great experience it was. Again we are not talking about The hardware itself in terms of benchmarks, but rather how much use you get out of the product. And i re-iterate, the PB seems like an amazing piece of hardware, and a great OS, but the paradigm apple has set not for tablets is expandibility through apps. And if RIm wants to compete, it has to play on that ground, or re shift the paradigm, which it obviously is not trying to do. If RIM wants this to be successful, it HAS to attract app developers, to build unique apps, to expand the functionality, to set its self apart, or atleast be presentable as a choice to someone deciding between a PB and ipad (if you tak about the enterprise market, thats not a choice per say for the consumer, as its chosen on an enterprise level).

I am a pretty tech savvy individual i think. Im not a programer, but i do more with the average gadget than your average consumer. But where you might consider a multi tasking a great feature, and im sure useful for you, for me what counts more is the ability for me to use my iphone for skype when im travelling, have a sip client with voip services from 6 different countries i travel frequently to, etc. My iphone gives me that. i still cant find skype on bb (other than verizon), or a decent voip client for a bb (if you know one id love to find it), amongst other things.

Dont get defensive about any of this. Its simply choice. jsut because someone chooses one thing over the other doesn't mean one is better than the other. But there is always some reason that one thing is more popular than the other, and marketing is jsut one part of it.

You do sound like an i-banker, I teach them and consult. Most are pompous morons that know very little but think they know a lot.

The "fact" that you work for a bank and own and use an i-phone says a lot. I don't think I'll be banking with you. Every i-bank i've consulted for would not dream of using skype when contacting important clients.

Good luck.

i don't get it. why is everyone so damn insecure on these gadget sites. Im trying to rationally discuss my views on a company and device and all i've had so far are personal attacks and rhetoric. I'm not sure what kind of "consultant" you are, if you are talking about a "consulting" gig at an ibank, that position doesn't exist, and if you are "consulting" ibanks on their operations, i'm not sure that position exists either. As for "teaching" them, well your biases and flawed argumentative skills make me doubt that aswell. Maybe you're thinking of "internet banking", and not "investment banking" :)

As for using skype, who said anything about reaching important clients on skype? we do have to maintain some modicum of professionalism so skyping clients is out of the question. But i find it indispensable when contacting other team members elsewhere in the world or personal conversations. In asia specifically, i find the quality of skype to be leaps ahead of making a normal land line/cell call. This isn't the skype that you used to use on a companuter, wher eyou had to be logged in and at computer to make a call. We're talking about using skype cell phone to cell phone. Additionally, your irrationality makes it sound like your job is very north america centric so you probably have no idea how popular skype is in europe and asia and how many business cards you get with peoples skype contacts on them.

As for using an iphone, you do realize that jp morgan, ubs, credit suisse, etc are all allowing employees to now switch over to an iphone from BB. so your BB security dogma is also old and staid now and just as defunct as this company you are doing a horrible job defending by flinging out personal attacks.

Maybe because your first post was full of misinformation, or at least a bizarrely one-sided presentation of apple strengths while omitting all manner of weakness.

Big time hedge fund man like you ought to be much more concerned about security. Apple has proven worthless in security, especially in apps. They are like a whore on payday--they let anybody in and don't test for AIDS.

I'm not going to reply to your reply in full because you misstated any number of points I made and mischaracterized the intent in other places. Long experience tells me we'll get nowhere. See my second post for where all this headed anyway.

Skype? I don't care about it, but it took Crapple HOW MANY YEARS to come up with CUT AND PASTE after RIM?!!!!!!!!!!!!

Got any Flash sites you like to visit?

Got any data on your max-I-pad you don't want mined by some precious li'l app?

This beyond laughable.

Anybody wonder why the entire financial market is a pyramid scheme that has ruined our once great nation?

My god, tired arguments much? Copy and paste, let it f*cking go. You want to rip on a company about that, why not attack Microsoft? They made the same goddamn mistake, SIX YEARS LATER, after watching Apple do the EXACT SAME THING.

It's taken RIM HOW MANY YEARS to come up with an even half competent OS?

It's taken RIM HOW MANY YEARS to be able to draw any developer makings apps worth two sh*ts to their platform? Oh right, that's a continual wait, seeing as the best agreement they could come up with was a f*cking emulator, and any smart development company knows to stay out of the void that is App World.

Do YOU have any Flash sites you'd like to view on your phone? Well I'm sure with that huge app memory and pixelrific HD screen resolution you've got going on, they'd look top notch regardless, that is if the processor doesn't explode from making the hamster-wheel powered browser try to load anything bigger than a .GIF.

Do you think there's never been one app breach on a BlackBerry? Do some research man, take a look around the forums. It's happened more than once from MobiHand and App World.

You're using iPhone attacks to justify stupid, overused, and now prehistoric points to bash Apple, and you're just making yourself look like a jackass. Let it go.

I don't own any Apple products other than a Macbook either, before you start screaming fanboy from the top of your lungs and sweating all over your keyboard. Just get some fucking perspective, RIM doesn't need protecting, and CB is definitely the last place a white knight is needed.

Moving on, the Playbook is getting pretty hyped in my area, and had a lot of questions in my field about it, however, no one has seriously said "I'm buying it" "I've preordered it" "I'm going to pretend my wife died so I can sit outside and wait for it" and that's where RIM will lose, again. This will not outshine the iPad, and when it comes down to it, consumers are going to compare it to the iPad, just like the Xoom, and the Galaxy Tab, and every other damn tablet that comes out from now until the end of time, just like they do with phones.

Regardless, I'm sure the government contracts for these things will provide some nice comfortable numbers for them, and I genuinely hope QNX turns out to be solid enough an OS that RIM finally realizes how insanely outdated Java is and moves on. I for one, won't be holding my breath.

By the way, the tablet shot is all new, as is 3G/4G mobile computing. Right now it's a battle between bells, branding, whistles and price points. Almost everything is the same. Before long, everything will be about price points. Right after that, service will be the only battleground.

My advice: always go security first, service second and don't believe the hype. Think about YOU and your chief concerns, not the gizmo's.


Looking forward to a comprehensive post about Playbook security in addition to all these rather useless puff pieces and offers to purchase cases and crap.