The first-ever BlackBerry Developer Conference is now a part of RIM history. DevCon brought forth some exciting news from RIM (App Center & App Store!) and made for some excellent content (working on Storm Review after I hit publish to this post!), but at the end of the day... err.. 3 days, this event was really targeted at one group... BlackBerry Developers!
I bumped into the brains/developers behind GymTechnik yesterday when checking out of the hotel (you'll remember we recently reviewed GymTechnik in the blogs) and we had a good chat about DevCon. Long story short, Sharad Mohan, Co-Founder and CEO of GymTechnik, used his flight home to put together his reflections of the event for us all to read. To me, GymTechnik is a perfect example of who RIM targeted with this event -- young guys, relatively new to the BB space, passionate about their product and excited at the opportunity and potential developing for BlackBerry has to offer -- who better to review DevCon?! So without further ado, let's turn it over to Sharad!
The RIM Developer Conference: Through The Wide-Angle Lens... Of a developer!
Owning a tech start up and trying to deploy a niche application for mobile smartphones can be quite a daunting task in trying to figure out what to do and how to do it. We always have questions, we always want to know what's going to happen tomorrow, and we always, as much as we pretend to not need it, inevitably need help. And who better to get help from, other than the makers of one of the most popular handsets in the world - RIM.
My company, Gym Technik, got the privilege of being invited to the first RIM Developer Conference with our mobile fitness application being chosen as a finalist for the "Most Innovative Web Application". We were ecstatic when we heard the news and right from the get-go were quite curious as to what to expect. Little did we know that what lay ahead of us were three days of first class treatment, extremely informative and helpful sessions with experts around to answer any questions, and Grammy Award style party atmospheres in the evenings!
Day one of the conference, the introduction day, was exciting. My partner and I attended quite a few of the informative sessions and were amazed at how much information was being given to us to make development on the BlackBerry platform seamless. At times I couldn't help but feel that I was sitting in a university like lecture hall taking notes on BlackBerry development from top notch "professors" in a world class "University". My only wish was that I was somehow able to attend all the sessions to soak in all of this valuable information. Luckily we were told that all the sessions were video-taped and will be available online. *phew*
Above all this, what amazed me the most - was the "Ask The Experts Area." For a development team trying to make an application on a platform for the first time, this was a dream come true. We basically walked into a room filled with RIM development experts each of whom specialized in a different mobile component, and just bombarded them with questions. I was a bit sceptical at first as to how much we would learn, but after our first 30 minute talk - It was evident that each and every person helping out in that room was a wealth of knowledge. It was like having our own development partner literally walking us through our development approach to our solution. This hands on assistance along with the "Hands On" lab where they sat down with us and showcased tutorials and sample code on their new development tools, will drastically cut the amount of development time we're going to need to release our native client application. Yes, I was all smiles all the way in that room.
And if all of the above wasn't enough I just cannot overlook the royal treatment given to us from beginning to end. Everything from making sure that during the breaks there were enough beverages and snacks to go around, to the fully packed lunches offered on all three days, to the open bar networking events in the evening, all the way to the fabulous surprise - A free blackberry to all attendees, this constant pampering really did make it feel like we were all valued partners of the RIM team.
The General Session on the second day was probably my most favorite part of the week. I knew right when I walked into the room, filled with soothing lounge music and blue ambient lighting, that there was plenty of excitement in the air. Listening to the executive team talk about the RIM vision and their work on making a developer's life easy, was extremely motivating. Also, the announcements of all the new development tools along with the capabilities of the new Storm left me extremely intrigued with the BlackBerry of tomorrow. And of course the special guest appearance presentation by Will.I.Am on his mobile project was entertaining and quite inspirational. It isn't everyday that I feel such a close connection with a celebrity as far as realizing a common goal - in this case, developing a mobile solution pushed out to the finger tips of the millions world-wide holding a BlackBerry.
So all in all, what I would say I took away from this conference (apart from my new Bold) - Is a better understanding of what a BlackBerry really can do and a comforting feeling that RIM is doing what it can to make my life as easy as possible in developing a mobile fitness BlackBerry application. I will definitely be back next year!
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