RIM’s Dev Alpha hardware seeding strategy for BlackBerry 10 is working

BlackBerry 10
By Chris Umiastowski on 22 Jun 2012 01:15 pm EDT

Yesterday I had the pleasure of attending the Toronto edition of the BlackBerry 10 Jam World Tour.  It was a packed house at the Westin Harbor Castle in downtown Toronto. 

Normally I'd bike downtown since it's only a 25 minute ride from my house.  But it was 35 frikkin' degrees Celcius outside.  That's 95 F for the rest of you.  Crazy hot.  So I took the subway which I don't do much these days.  Nice to see so many Torontonians still sportin' a Bold or a Curve on their commute to work.  Canada is still holding strong as a CrackBerry Nation.  

So I spent the day listening to RIM talk about BlackBerry 10, and talking to developers.  Whenever I'd be talking to a developer I would just ask one simple question.  

"Why BlackBerry?"  

I wanted to know why each developer had chosen to spend time at this event, and why they'd decided to code for BB10.

The answers were remarkably consistent.  First, RIM is actually seeding out real hardware.  On top of the great developer tools that have been published, the developers really love having real world hardware.  They want to side load apps to a device, not show off their work on a simulator.  One developer even joked with me that the dev alpha simulator doesn't even fit on his laptop screen.

Second, the aspect of competition kept coming up.  It's way easier to compete in App World versus the App Store for iOS.  Developers want to make money.  BlackBerry people spend money.  So you have less crowded shelves, and a hungry audience.  This is something devs like.

Third, the tools really are good.  This keeps coming up over and over.  Devs talk about the work required to write an app using Cascades and the native tools and they're thrilled by not having to hand-code basic animations or other flashy UI elements.  

Seeding real hardware is working for RIM.  I talked to newbie developers who are just out of school, and more senior folks who understand the difference between using a simulator and using the real deal.  Real hardware is just SO much better when it comes to testing apps and showing them off to others.  RIM has never done this before. It's a huge change in direction for the company.  But it's working.  

The BlackBerry 10 Jam World Tour will seed out 5000 devices.  That's an absolutely awesome start to a new platform.

Reader comments

RIM’s Dev Alpha hardware seeding strategy for BlackBerry 10 is working


Great post Chris!

The event yesterday was fantastic!

I agree with you 100%, RIM has done a fantastic job getting developers on board for BlackBerry 10. If that is new developers (like you mentioned fresh out of school), existing BlackBerry developers, or even developers that do not work on BlackBerry yet.

I remember seeing a couple of the lightning pitches being done on iOS devices because these developers did not develop for BlackBerry yet. But they were very excited not only by the prospect of getting a real life developer device from RIM, but with the availability of the various tools. Webworks, Cascades, HTML5, etc. I even remember one guy coded an app using Python and had it running on the Dev Alpha.

Yes, I think eventually they will stop making hardware and license their OS to someone like Samsung that doesn't have a software platform to call their own. But until then, the vision that they have for their new software platform (BlackBerry 10) relies on their hardware.

Thanks man - and great to meet you in person!

Yeah, that guy who coded up his app in Python was awesoe.  I haven't seen too many people doing python coding for BlackBerry but it's obviously completely possible.  

Same here Chris, nice meeting you in person. Those front row seats we had were amazing! Great conversations too!

Go RIM Go! :)

That would be me. :-D

Still needs more polish, it's in the very early stages. But it'll get there soon.

Founder of Pulsecode Engineering and taab

Desktop Bridge for the BlackBerry Playbook
twitter: #DesktopBridge

It was the taab payments right? That was awesome. Being an economist, I found this idea relevant and very progressive. The Royal Canadian Mint is definitely on the right path starting this initiative. As we all found out with the 'penny' or the cent, it costs too much to make it with rising commodity prices. If we can completely eliminate coin currency then eventually paper currency. It would be a digital currency world.

Yup. Thanks for the kind words.

I made the mistake yesterday thinking I was giving a 3 minute pitch to fellow developers, who would think it would be cool that I got NFC working on the Dev Alpha via Python, with a pretty nice UI. Turns out, I was wrong, and I was pitching to people looking for a complete app idea. It's why I lost out to the FSAE and Elder apps. Rory's RocketApp was very good, and had a nice UI, he deserved to win.

No big deal, won't make that mistake again, and it's just additional fuel to refine things, and work on my pitch to make it more convincing.

Founder of Pulsecode Engineering and taab

Desktop Bridge for the BlackBerry Playbook
twitter: #DesktopBridge

Had a great time at the Toronto jam lots of very excited developers there. It was really cool meeting you there too Chris :)

Chris, it's too bad you and I didn't get to meet up and chat, it would've been great to have some discussions with you. Follow me on twitter, we'll have to find another chance. @xitijpatel

Founder of Pulsecode Engineering and taab

Desktop Bridge for the BlackBerry Playbook
twitter: #DesktopBridge

I guess these good news compensate RIM's relative failure as of late to deliver top notch hardware, running top notch software, finished at launch.

good for RIM

Was at BlackBerry 10 Jam Toronto myself as well :). I did actually get to see Chris but I didn't get the chance to talk with him x_x.

Anyways, it was a great event, a lot of cheering.

It was a really good show yesterday.
That one developer was not joking about it not fitting in his screen portrait mode goes off the screen

Chris do you always take pictures for crackberry

That issue with the simulator is very real. It sounds trivial, but when you consider that just to navigate around the screen you have to pull your cursor out of the simulator, scroll the VMware window itself, click back inside, and try to find your cursor again, it gets old VERY quickly.

It's better in landscape, but it's still a major pain and makes working in the simulator very tedious.

I agree i found it the biggest pain. That is why i register for the Toronto show hope to get a dev alpha which I did. Even if i did not get it i still would have went, It was a get source of information, and I was able to talk to RIM employees and ask some questions

Nice meeting you in the registration line Chris in the morning. Although we got a brief introduction, when it came time to register in line, I lost you after that.

But I agree with what you said. The simulator can't never replace the experience on real hardware. It is true about driving experience as it is about making applications.

Side note: I never realized you used to dabble with code as you told me. Hope you got some fun out of it to try to get "the developer in you" going...

Trying to remember what I said about dabbling with code.  I definitely am no programmer but I have solved some very basic problems with PHP.  Mainly I can just express in pseudo code what I want and have someone else (smarter) actually code it.  Great meeting you too!

The Retina MacBook Pro should be good enough for the Dev Alpha simulator.

Sucroid.com - Sweet apps for the fans

Yesterday was indeed awesome. Looking forward to creating my App(s) for BB10 for when it comes out ! I meet a lot of other people who are taking it to the next Level and it was awesome too see

Good stuff Chris,

Keep it coming, and as always, remain honest. Sugar-coating is not required, and it makes the truly great things RIM is doing to support the devs even more exciting.

That's some positive feedback. But it won't make any difference if RIM screws up the launch (by being too slow, excluding key features, botching something - they have done all of these). Common RIM, make BB10 rock and make it fast!

Chris, when you were previously talking about wanting to go to the BB10 Jam in Toronto, you said you sent a request to RIM through Twitter and (basically) Kevin called you an amateur and he'd get on to RIM to get you tickets....

I was wondering, was it your Twitter request or Kevin's intervention that got you the seat ?


Right, so what's happening now is, there are two categories of BB developers -- those who own a BB10 alpha device and those who don't because they couldn't attend a nearby Jam event, or whatever. We all know that the BB10 simulator window does not fit vertically on desktop screens. Pointing out that it makes a difference to test a BB10 app on an actual device is adding insult to injury. The RIM approach may be working but, added to the "waiting", it also may frustrate some devs enough to make them quit.

On a totally unrelated note, Celsius is spelled with an "s" in the middle. Cheers!

Hi Chris

I was also at the BB Jam event in Toronto yesterday and was very impressed with how RIM is handling things, getting everyone excited to develop for BB10. The turn out was over the top, with registration sold out in 10 hours, looked like around 200 developers there too !

The sessions were high level, but great information for developers to get started.

The Alpha device is pretty good as it stands, but still early OS build, it will be exciting seeing it all come together by fall time.

I really like how connected via WIFI the Alpha device (same as Playbook) can share files in Windows Explorer ! The screen is excellent, speed is great and the size is perfect, can imagine anything bigger like the huge phones out lately seems silly.

The only 3 things I want to see come release time is an SD card with removable battery, and a bit more stylish design makes it a winner !

Keep up the good work RIM !


I was at the BB10 Jam yesterday and It was packed and people were with enthusiasm. I am hoping those developers would bring some solid apps soon.

Is there any way to develop apps for Playbook/BB10 on the Playbook? Also what is RIM gonna do with all these Dev Alpha devices after the BB10 launch?

Not a troll or anything. In fact a die hard BB fan. When you say that the seeding program is working, do you have any facts and data to back that up or is it just your perception?