Closing the BlackBerry App Gap - Talking to Alec Saunders, VP of Developer Relations for Research In Motion

By Kevin Michaluk on 12 Jan 2012 02:31 pm EST

With titles like Angry Birds and Cut the Rope finally hitting the BlackBerry platform, we're really starting to see evidence that the app gap on BlackBerry is starting to close and things are gaining momentum. There are now over 50,000 apps available for BlackBerry and App World has passed 2 billion downloads. Not bad!

No doubt there is still a lot of work to be done, and at CES 2012 we caught up with Research In Motion's new VP of Developer Relations, Alec Saunders, who caught us up on the progress and plan. The focus for RIM right now is on making sure everything is in order for the launch of BlackBerry 10 Smartphones later this year. Between now and then it's all about getting out there and making sure the BIG NAMES are on the platform at launch that people expect to be there, and also getting the native tools into the hands of developers who can really set an example for what can be done on the platform as well. It's also about spreading the word, and the BlackBerry evangelist program has gone from concept to reality - we had the pleasure of meeting one of the evangelists at a RIM Meet-up on Tuesday night (we'll follow up with more soon on that).

The strategy of going after the big names makes a lot of sense. Looking at games on the PlayBook for example, once EA put some of their titles onto the platform, other gaming companies began following suit. Competition is competition, and nobody wants to be left behind, so we should see more and more titles keep coming to the platform over the months ahead. And Alec made it clear that RIM is being very concious of making the transition from apps for the PlayBook to apps for BlackBerry 10 phones a smooth one, and they're learning from their experience gained in the BlackBerry OS over the years to make sure they're doing this in the best way possible going ahead (example - making it easy for developers to deal with multiple resolutions for different phone form factors, etc.).

Check out the video above for a quick hello from Alec, and we'll be talking a lot more about BlackBerry app development on CrackBerry in the months ahead. In the meantime... developers - BUILD THOSE APPS! And BlackBerry owners... let's buy a bunch to show the world developers would be CRAZY not to put their apps on BlackBerry!

Reader comments

Closing the BlackBerry App Gap - Talking to Alec Saunders, VP of Developer Relations for Research In Motion


Yep some really great apps available on the playbook. Not so much the handheld OSes. But in 9-10 months when the handhelds release we should hopefully have some applications in6-12 months following that. Though, Adobe Flash is an integral part of the Playbook and apparently not going to be that much a part of the handheld OS.

Kevin, please ask this gentleman for an ETA on Skype for Playbook, or at least a comment as to its status.

Another MYTHBUSTER! BlackBerry App World has the most popular apps and it's growing! Patience my friends on Zinio and Skype.

OK now that there are apps, I hope they dont think non BB users are going to come to to find out about them. If they want to increase sells they are going to have to market all these new features. We should already be seeing TV ads about the remote features, 2.0, new apps and games and other great things the PB has to offer. iphone, ipad ads where showing 3-6 months before release dates and it had people foaming at the mouth to get them. I didnt see one PB ad till months after release and I still only see a BB ad maybe once a month and I sit in front of a TV and computer all day. I hate to see Rim fail when they ARE "leapfrogging" the other at this point. #EndRant

So what your saying is they should have shown adds BEFORE they made the official announcement of what to expect for OS 2.0 at CES? .

As you said, iPhone/iPad ads were showing of version 5.0 3-6 months. But it started after the WWDC announcement.

I love my playbook but I am missing some basic apps .

1. Skype - Extremely useful
2. Yahoo messenger with ability to use the existing camera .
3. A really good and easy to use ebook reader ( Not kobo) with ability to use my pdf .

Keep the price under 300 and bring the useful apps . Don't get bothered by apple's staggering 600,000 apps because with great apps and great price point I am sure playbook is the way to go .


Is this a fancy way of saying they are just going to sit here and not do anything until the launch of BB10 later this year?

Absolutely correct... I do have an iPhone (and a BB), but searching through the iTunes App Store is a nightmare compared to the BB App World, which must be why I see so many apps with 0 reviews... because nobody can find them.

RIM doesn't get a lot of love for App World, but at least they are improving on it all the time, as opposed to the App Store which has languished with an overcrowded unsearchable catalogue.

It would also be nice to see RIM consider making an official Twitter app as well as an official Windows Live Messenger app for the Playbook.

i been with blackberry for the past 5 years, i switch to the galaxy s2 on tmobile like 3 weeks ago. i didnt care much about the games, video calling. and all that until i got the galaxy. i miss my keyboard, bbm, email.. the most. im considering going back just for that,. but after playing with some of the apps on android, damnn RIM shit had to be on the app world longgggggg timeeee ago...........RIM really has to release, Skype, oovoo, tango, netflix, amazon kindle.. instagram, Rim gets that on playbook and future bb10 phone. they would be good..

I was wondering the same thing.

I would assume its 50 000 apps combined on both platforms and counting the same apps that are available on both platforms as separate apps.

There is nowhere near 50 000 on Playbook OS - I'd guess there's MAYBE 10 000.

But RIM does need to be WAY LESS ambiguous about it and borrow a page from the other 50 000 app store - Windows Phone Marketplace - and start throwing BILLIONS of dollars at developers to get apps made for Playbook/BB 10. Forget OS 7.X is EOL, even though I love my torch, they need ONE platform to lure developers to and they need it to be Playbook/BB 10. This is literally the company at stake and they need to act like it.

This CES from RIM was disappointing to say the least. They still don't seem to get it.

Another thing I'm gonna say is this: ALL BB 10 phones had better have the same set of core functionality hardware wise. Enough with the this is touchscreen and this isn't, this one has NFC and this one doesn't, this one has 4GB of RAM and this one has 8, this one has FM and this one doesn't. Why they hell does the touch screen curve has more features then the Torch 9860? RIM makes no sense they need to FOCUS and have the same core features across the line not sprinkled randomly here and there.

You make a couple of really good points, but two struck me as odd. First, 7.1 still has the better part of a year to live, so I hate to call it EOL and RIM is clearly moving into one platform (as they've said) with BBX (I will not call it BB10), so they ARE doing this. Secondly, RIM can't throw the money at their Appworld like Microsoft can to theirs; RIM does not have the deep pockets that Microsoft has.

10,000 for the PlayBook? Not even close. Just look at the available apps. It's maybe in the low hundreds. The 50,000 is predominantly for BB6 and previous versions. Someone should get the honest breakout.

I for one would like to see Cascades from TAT released. Hard to expect a boom in apps when you release a SDK without any UI components.

I wish you would ask a few tough questions like

Where are the important apps that are still missing on your platform (skype, IM, better PDF reader, Google apps etc)...
Are you working with the other companies to resolve this issue....

Blackberry and Playbook still missing some key applications unfortunately.

Well said; as much as I enjoy the videos/interviews that Crackberry does, I also wish they would ask some more hard-hitting questions; specific questions; and more technical/real life scenario questions.

I'm sure "its cool", "sweet", "wow" and "right on" have a does asking tougher questions.

Alec and Kevin can't do it alone, nor should consumers expect them to. BUG the devs and companies - PROVE to them it is worth their time and money to make / licence applications for RIM products ... and buy others, they all watch.

I hope this means more company apps for Blackberry. I see companies everyday introducing apps for IPhone and Android but not Blackberry. Then those that have Blackberry apps have not updated them for OS7.

No, he's the NEW guy. They fired the other guy. Since Alec got the job, things have begun to move in the right direction.