This post is a little depressing for me to write (as it may be for you to read), but it needs to be made...
After nearly a year of informative and insightful posts, the DevBerry blog has bid the blogosphere a final farewell. For those not familiar with the site, the no-nonsense articles posted by developer/author Neil Sainsbury have cut to the core of the BlackBerry development environment and what it's like to be a small BlackBerry ISV (Independent Software Vendor). Neil's reason for originally starting the DevBerry blog is listed on the site as follows:
Analysts have been reporting for the last couple of years that BlackBerry software is on the rise. Every year has seen some fantastic growth in the number of third-party apps becoming available. Despite this, the BlackBerry software ecosystem doesn’t appear to have changed much at all. Unlike Windows Mobile which has a thriving developer community (web sites, magazines, blogs, podcasts) the BlackBerry ecosystem is sparse, and in my opinion, unhealthy. I would love for this blog to stimulate the development community and generate more interest in this field.
Now check out Neil's reasons for calling it quits...
...I’ve decided to stop for a couple of reasons...
First, I’m not so sure after all this time that it has actually made a difference. I would like to think that it has, but all evidence would seem to point otherwise. It has certainly drawn a lot of attention - attention I’m sure RIM did not want - to what it’s really like as a small BlackBerry ISV. However after a year of making fun of the same trivial problems that could be fixed in five minutes they’re still here, as discussed in my previous post. I’m sorry, but I just don’t hear the drumbeat of progress and even when I do I’m not in a position (legally) to talk about it which is frustrating. Truthfully, I do at times hear a faint drumbeat, but it’s drowned out by the loud and pounding “rat-tat-tat-tat-tat” made by everybody else (Google, Apple, etc.).
Second, I’m actually a pretty cheery “cock-eyed optimist” (to quote Kramer from Seinfeld) in Real Life, and this blog doesn’t reflect that. It’s been more of a venting ground and I’ve decided to get a punching bag instead! Seriously though, writing about BlackBerry dev. stuff is a bit of a mood-kill; which is why I’m guessing pretty much nobody does it (though, I definitely do refer you Jonathan Fisher’s blog and Slashdev which are both great).
Finally, there’s lots of exciting stuff going on in the mobile development world. Things like Google Android, the iPhone SDK, and Nokia opening up Symbian, have got me brimming with ideas and positivity about the future of this industry. So, I’m going to take a little bit of time off blogging and then start a new one sometime down the track about mobile development in general. I think that way I can go back to being my regular optimistic self and not feel like a war-time reporter.
For a BlackBerry fanatic like myself the above is definitely hard to read. I want to see the BlackBerry software community thrive! But the reality I have often observed, from discussions with literally dozens of BB application developers over the past year and a half when it comes to BB app development is as follows: it can be frustrating; it can be rewarding; and it can also be extremely frustrating.
RIM grew its business over the past decade by focusing on Enterprise, Security, and developing the BlackBerry into the most kick-butt communication tool the world has ever seen. Embracing the 3rd party software aftermarket was not a requirement for RIM's success in enterprise, nor a priority. But as RIM shifts its sights to the consumer market, it is going to be the BlackBerry ISVs that unlock the potential of the BlackBerry hardware and OS and allow RIM to not only compete in the smartphone market, but dominate it for years to come.
RIM knows this of course, and they ARE beginning to do things about it. They recently announced the first annual BlackBerry Developer Conference and they recently announced the start of a $150 Million BlackBerry Partners fund. The thing I don't get is why is this all so recent. It's only now, after nearly a decade of BlackBerrying, that the first-annual developers conference is being held? Shouldn't this have taken place like...uh.. a decade ago?
In reading the final DevBerry post I get the sense that the developer of three best-selling BB apps is going to be looking at developing for other mobile platforms due to ongoing frustrations in the BB dev world. Push come to shove, RIM needs to be doing the things RIGHT NOW to not only retain the best BB developers we have, but attract new ones.
This isn't a rant against RIM... they know what they're doing and I personally don't see the BlackBerry growth curve slowing anytime soon. But I don't want to see the growth slow down ever, and that means a healthy developer community is a MUST. Make it happen RIM!
[ Image: Another shout out to our Canadian Readers on Canada Day - That's Wayne & Shuster from CBC television fame. And the Farewell words are how they ended every show. They are Canadian classics and were always HILARIOUS! I watched these guys every week growing up! ]