Farewell to the DevBerry Blog: MSG to RIM - Do Something!

By Kevin Michaluk on 1 Jul 2008 05:14 am EDT

Farewell DevBerry... Wayne & Shuster style

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! ]

Topics: Editorial

Reader comments

Farewell to the DevBerry Blog: MSG to RIM - Do Something!


Hi Kevin,

After reading your comments on the DevBerry blog, I also found myself disheartened. All I can say is that I hope RIM will realize how important it is to support their developers. After all, the Users of BB devices are always on the lookout for good applications and programmes for their beloved BlackBerrys. Without them, I don't think there would be as many addicted CrackBerrys. And wouldn't that be a shame?

I'm new to the BlackBerry and have just recently found DevBerry, and this is very sad. When I started with Palm (way back in the day) I always enjoyed hacking around with my own programs even if they weren't realy any good. I learn a lot from it and it really gives the user an understanding of why feature X that would be great hasn't been done. This followed me to Windows Mobile, where again I played around with some basic programs, got a little framiliar with the development system, and follow some of the Professionals by assisting with closed beta testing. Now that I have switch over to the BlackBerry, I have started to dig around for information and found that it is sparse at best. It is really sad to not find something along the lines of XDA-Developers.com for the BlackBerry. A lot of good progress and some fantastic applications have come out of the Windows Mobile community and it's a shame if the same can't happen with the BlackBerry platform or doesn't seem as common.

I wish all the best to Neil and hope that the improved spirits will spur or allow for more software development.

So far I've not discovered there not being an app I needed or wanted on my BB granted my needs and wants aren't many. But looking at what apps we have on CB and the apps listed or 4 or 5 other sites I visited maybe development is lacking due to saturation of apps as well. What remaining stuff that hasn't been done perhaps is being seen as too much of an effort for what little the devs would get out of it. As devices get more sophisticated more apps will likely get made. I guess BB is just in a dev recesion and need something new and exciting that people want. I don't know how long BB has branched into marketing to a more general public. Perhaps what is needed is to find out what people want and make it happen.

This is the first time i've heard of DevBerry Blog, and it's sad to me. I am quite new to blackberry development (mobile development in general) and I have noticed that there is a lack of buzz or zing! in the bb development community, compared to web development, and of course iPhone and Android(which I would blame because they are new )

However, I think that it will soon be on an upswing soon. As RIM starts releasing cooler devices that consumers that attract the attention of consumers, that have aesthetically pleasing user interfaces, it will spark more interest. One of the things, besides being new platforms, that makes developing for the iPhone (which i've dipped into) or Android interesting is the end result....a smooth, visually beautiful application. I believe the Bold and upcoming Thunder will attract attention of more developers and hopefully turn things around with the nice UI of 4.6.

WIth Blackberrys so strong in the corporate environment, i think it naturally attracted boring corporate applications that normal consumers don't too much care for.

I hope to do my part and change that :)

Does his cessation of blogging on BB software development equate to cessation of actual software development? I hope not.

I mean, these guys just released a new program last week and were remarkably responsive in dealing with issues, personally I think that customer service like that is priceless and has kept me loyal to Palm software developers for many years. I certainly hope that the company is planning to continue BB software development.

Head over to DevBerry and read the final post. Definitely will be continuing to develop BB apps. Just stopping on the blogging...

I'm a 3rd party BB developer, and personally think that Neil was being very generous to RIM in his remarks.

Steve Ballmer used to say 'Developers, Developers, Developers'. People may balk at MS for buying up so many great (or not so great) products-- ISA Server and PowerPoint just to name two -- but without a thriving dev community those apps wouldn't even be there to buy.

The BlackBerry ISV program isn't terrible, but it's also a long way from being 'good enough'. I'll leave it at that.

I'm not going to leave this huge comment on here like many others have (although I applaud them for doing so)...The BlackBerry community has lost a great developer at this time due to it's "closed" methods of working and it will continue to happen as things like the iPhone SDK advance and Android (which claims to be simple to code for) becomes more available, we will lose more developers to those platforms, it's time for RIM to shape up.

Don't forget customers...

I am not going to go off on another tirade about this, that, and the other thing, but this is a HUGE part of why I have moved on from BlackBerry use (AT THIS TIME). As a customer of technology and a loyalist to none, I have personally experienced what the third party dev community offers to Windows Mobile, and I have experienced what a jailbroken iPhone can do.

In comparison to those, BlackBerry offers a paltry selection of quality apps at best. When I realized that I can get better quality and more useful things on a jailbroken iPhone, I started to get upset. When I think about what a legitimate development house (as opposed to a homebrew jailbreak dev) can do with real dev tools, I get down right angry.

Why is RIM so slow to innovate their OS from an architecture level on out? Sure, they offer decent hardware improvements from year to year, but what about the core?

I personally moved on because I got tired of helping the cow get fatter. RIM needs to shed the pounds of complacency and start working on the ground level to redesign and modernize the OS while keeping what has made them who they are intact.

If they don't, more developers will move on, or at least devote the majority of their attention to other platforms and more customers will wake up and do the same. I am one person, but when thousands realize what I did, what is to stop them from following my footsteps?

I personally hope that it happens. If RIM suddenly loses their cushion, they will be FORCED to innovate and start fresh. If they do, I will come back, and so will others...

Here's to hoping.