BlackBerry Hub

After returning from a family vacation, I spent most of today catching up on recent tech news including all the goings-on at CES.  It looks like the Mobile Nations team is having a blast even if the show isn't filled with BlackBerry news.

One particular video caught my attention.  Yesterday Forbes posted a YouTube video featuring Jeff Gadway, RIM's Senior Manager of BlackBerry Product Marketing.  It was just another walk-through of BlackBerry 10.  Gadway was showing how you can swipe down from the BlackBerry Hub to reveal your next appointment, or other important items.  Because I was managing my task list before watching this video, I immediately thought to myself, "Gee wouldn't it be nice if there was a cloud-based BlackBerry Task Manager app which showed me my high priority tasks in the Hub?"

The best task managers have been built by third parties, not mobile platform vendors like RIM, Apple or Google.  Apps like Remember The Milk come to mind.  So around the 2:30 mark in the video, I was pleased to hear Gadway drop this little quote about BlackBerry Hub:

"The hub is going to be an open API that developers will be able to tie their applications into."

I'll be the first to admit that we've heard this before, so it's not shocking news.  But it was the first time I stopped to think about what it means to RIM and customers.  It was the first time I thought about it in the context of productivity apps like task managers.  

With BBHub APIs available, any Internet-connected task manager (whether it be a desktop app or a web service) could feed data right to the Hub.  

Obviously it doesn't end there.  Sports apps could feed data from your favorite teams.  Finance apps could feed stock price alerts directly to the Hub.  The classic "to do list" is just what came to mind for me when I was watching Gadway speak.  

If you own a Playbook running OS2, you've already had a bit of a feel for how this works because RIM aggregates email, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn as part of your inbox.  I think the creation of an API to allow third parties to plug into the Hub is absolutely brilliant.  

In its first release, I think this Hub API will close the gap with what iOS already has.  iOS apps can already populate the Notification Center.  And this should make it easier for app developers to support BlackBerry even if they don't build a full-fledged app.  They could  easily build "apps" (if you want to call them that) which simply populate data you care about into the BBHub.  Clicking on an item could then take you to a mobile-friendly website rather than a platform-specific app.  For many web-based services this would be excellent.

But we think RIM will extend its APIs beyond this, and allow deeper integration with BBHub.  For example, say you complete a to do item.  Imagine just checking it off right there in the Hub.  No need to go into the app to do it.  It's like the Pareto principle (aka the 80/20 rule).   Most of the things you need to see and do should be doable right from inside the Hub.  And this is what I think RIM is building with BlackBerry 10.

Counting the days until January 30th ...