Will RIM allow themes for QNX devices or are those days over?

BlackBerry Themes
By Bla1ze on 13 Oct 2011 04:12 pm EDT

Back when the BlackBerry PlayBook first launched the question of themes and customizations came up and while the answer to the question "Will the PlayBook be skinnable?" was never really dismissed -- it was never taken seriously either. It only garnered a response that when broken down equated to if the demand is there, it might eventually be considered as an option. Well, that never happened despite the demand being there and to this day, theme developers still have no access to creating themes on the BlackBerry PlayBook.

Now, with BlackBerry 7 devices out -- theme developers are once again stuck waiting on RIM to update the BlackBerry Theme Studio so that themes can be created for BlackBerry 7 devices. Their has been no mention of if and when the update will come but as we all know -- DevCon is only a few days away so that may bring a new release but what if it doesn't?

As we know, BBX devices are the next evolution of the BlackBerry platform and will run on QNX. Theme developers at this point are questioning whether not they'll have a place when those devices eventually get released. Some have brought this up on the BlackBerry developer forums but as of now, no official information has been detailed about either Theme Studio for BlackBerry 7 devices or QNX be it on the PlayBook or BBX devices when released.

With that in mind, where do you all think themes for BlackBerry devices are headed? With developers asking people to speak up about themes on new devices to show support for their work, has it come to a point where the mass majority just isn't interested in themes on their devices any more or is this just a priority issue for now in that RIM has many other things on the table for QNX, BBX and Blackberry?

For as long as I've been involved in BlackBerry, themes have also played an important role and when you look at other platforms, their significance while being high up there in terms of user usage -- support from say Apple and Google just really isn't there. There is no pre-approved way of creating themes on other devices just guidelines and some suggested tools to use but Apple nor, Google is handing out "theme developer kits" so that you can make your own. But with that said; themes are a huge portion of installs on both the iOS and Android platforms.

Another thought is the possibility of RIM wanting to make their own themes. Their recent customer survey asking about widgets and such could suggest a move to have preset options for end users. Thinking along the lines of a work theme, personal theme, weekend theme all pre designed by RIM. In any case, there is no real answer for the time being but BlackBerry theme developers are working hard and hitting RIM to provide new tools for creating themes -- sound off in the comments on where you all think themes are headed or just head on over to the BlackBerry developer forums and show some support for them.

Reader comments

Will RIM allow themes for QNX devices or are those days over?


(wow, you guys need to fix your script on your site, impossible to load quickly on my playbook, and even my pc's browser)

They should allow themes on QNX! Themes are an amazing feature for BlackBerry users. Maybe not business users, but teens and consumers for sure!

Loads fine with Chrome Win7. Like 1 second flat.

If the themes don't slow down the processing than this could be a huge individuality advantage over the rest of the tablet market.

it is definitely the script. it takes forever to load on the playbook and is slow on my pc. and my pc is excellent (my internet is too)

It's an internet explorer thing. The new trend is to program websites for Firefox and Chrome and ignore IE issues even though IE still holds about 70% of the market share. CrackBerry really needs to address this issue as posting on this site is annoying to 70% of the people in the world and all PlayBook owners.

The PlayBook shares much of it's rendering engine with Chrome and Safari, and should do better by the logic.

Personally, if I never saw a theme again, it would be too soon. I got into them to some extent with the 9000, but after a while it became kind of a gimmick.

I'd much rather RIM put its development energies into nurturing a deep app ecosystem.

Themes? We don't need no stinking themes.

I don't think the feature needs to be there at launch, but I think it would be great to see what theme builders can do with QNX ni the long run.

I could care less about them. I've tried free ones and paid ones and found that they not only not work well, but seem to make using a BlackBerry more difficult. Then u have to rearrange your icons back the way u like them and then have to hide or move the theme builder's linked icon from the home screen.

If you listen to the Android Central podcast, you'll hear them say time and time again that they dont want their Android ph's skinned with Sense UI or anything but stock Android.

Themes were awesome back in OS5 and before. Ever since OS6 came out, Themes do nothing but hurt the user experience. Unless they gave more control and allowed theme builders to change the way the different screens work in OS6 and 7, then they are pretty useless at this point.

I want themes but they have to customize more then just the way something looks. In playbook tabs are very important part so maybe a bit of costomizetion would be nice there (like on Jailbroken ios)

Themes are lame. RIM needs to prioritize other things. Functional customization I understand, but superficial crap is..well, superficial.

I agree most are lame, however, I managed to find one that displays my calendar on the main screen. I need to have my calendar there for quick glances. Whatever theme it is, I'm very happy I have it. With no theme options on current BB7 and future BBX phones, having my calendar displayed on the home screen, will not be an option. I hope themes are available in some fashion.

What OS are you using? If OS7, can you not just click the 'today' search bar at the top underneath the clock? If OS5, why not just change the initial calender option to 'today' and then put it on your home screen?

because on os7, i dont want to have to click the today bar and scroll down to see a lousy 3 upcoming events. and because i dont want to have to set my os5 theme to the default today because i like to have my icons on the homescreen as well. your suggestions are just lame work arounds.

the best thing about theming is having hidden today. this feature made me stick with my 9650 over android and ios. when i wasted 250$ on my 9930, i was expecting RIM to release the theme builder for os7 so i could once again have this option.

but, alas, 2 months later and not even a mention of it (how surprsing). i have lost faith for good this time. clearly rim has no idea wat they are doing, and are determined to shoot themselves in the foot time and time again.

i would very much like to have themes available to me on my device i paid way to much money for, since RIM clearly has no intention of ever having a decent app ecosystem.

Yes. I downloaded a couple on my Storm2 but just because I had never had a BlackBerry/wanted to play around. 99.9% of them were utter crap, but found one good one (and it didn't even change that much of the OS5).

I would not in a million years dream of infecting my OS7 on my 9900 with a 'theme' (read atrocity). There is nothing in OS7 that I think can be improved upon by a mere third party.

Subsequent BlackBerry OS releases (for example BBX) should - and will - significantly improve upon the current platform.

first of all LOL for you buying a storm 2, idk why the hell anyone would buy a keyboardless blackberry..

second of all, just because u didnt take the time to look for a theme that adds functionality, does not mean that they are all crap. it means you tried out a small percentage of themes u personally didnt like, then assumed since you didnt like the ones you tried, that all themes must be worthless shit and that no one else would enjoy them.

third, you cant think of anything that could be improved by a third party on os7?
really? how about getting rid of that absurdly large status bar on top?, or having the ability to have a calendar displayed at all times? how about hidden today? how about key mapping? how about changing your icons? how about moving things around like the clock, or increasing its size? how about having a clean homescreen?

i can think of many ways theme builder could fix RIMs default os7 'theme' (read atrocity).

i would disagree with that there is nothing wrong with the storm2 first id personally have it before a bold or a curve due to the bigger screen and ability to click things easier without using a track pad secondly 99% of the themes for os5 were shocking any good ones lagged more than a granny on a brocken stair lift, granted some people like change on there phone if you change the wallpaper you basically change the theme anyway also if you hit the space between the the search and the sound profiles the drop down menu is basically a hidden today without re reading messages/texts

I dont care about themes, I do care when RIM wil bring me a QNX device. Better for them to annouce somethin or I may prob gone with theiphone 4s

Personally I haven't used themes ever, don't bother with them... but why wouldn't RIM include the feature? a lot of people likes themes and spends money buying them every so oftem so its a revenue stream for RIM in commisions, kind of makes sence to have the feature. Maybe not just at launch but I think it would be a bad idea not do include them ever...

I guess I am the only one but I find that using themes makes it easier and faster to navigate and launch my preferred apps. I have tried many themes and now have settled on the excellent Tabbbed theme. I really like themes that provide maximum space for my wallpaper while allowing me two slots for apps and a way to pull up a set of hidden apps.

If BBX moved away from the current default navigation to something more streamlined, I could live with it, but until then, I am staying on OS 6.

I actually enjoy some of the sleeker, minimalistic, themes. It's a great way to me to quickly see what I want, where I want, and how I want. I know I could just adapt to the native interface, but there's something about having it setup just the way I want that makes it part of my BB experience. After all, complete control over the phone is one of the things RIM does with the rest of the core components; it should be extended to it's visual aesthetics as well.

I hope the move away from themes because they need to control the ecosystem to the degree that Apple does with iOS. I wouldn't mind if they had UI options, but that's really a secondary feature to everything else they need to get in the OS. I'd rather all those theme developers find a little more creative way to make money such as building useful apps to add to the ecosystem.

i kinda see your point, but what would a theme developer do? you say `lean a totally new coding language` or, quite possibly, they might simply start themeing android/iOS devices. if the latter happens, then RIM simply loses devs, and thats not what they want or need.

I like being able to theme, but it definitely isn't a high priority so I'm not really complaining much without them either. Maybe it's on the priority list but it is pretty low on the list considering how much else they need to do.

Here's the sad part and the bottom line on themes: while I personally feel they're a phenomenal differentiator for BlackBerry, and it has really made a difference for me, most people just don't care about them. And having RIM focus on theme builder software, the creation and support of it both in the OS code and in the separate builder code, is a distraction for a company that needs to work on the base user experience. It's sad to admit this, for there are some utterly amazing theme builders out there (Hedone, Walker, Bbt, Mobster -- you know who you are, and you have really wowed me). But if RIM is to focus on this, it will mean not focusing on other more critical things to the success of their business, as they lose customers in droves to Android and iOS, neither of which have themes. Cue Metallica: Sad But True...

This is not true at all, the difference is the fact that Google and Apple are not the developers of the themes, but unfortunately because of the way the BlackBerry platform operates this won't be possible in the same way for us. I am a full time theme developer and it saddens me to see RIM leave us hanging the way they have. The lack of support for theme developers is frustrating and it hurts the user experience for the users that stay with BlackBerry exclusively for the unique way it can be themed(Yes my cynical friends they do exist). I am not personally a fan of the UI on either BlackBerry 6, 7, or the PlayBook.

I consider myself a hardcore BlackBerry user, I rely on features like autotext, customizable sound profiles, hotkeys, and more but the day I can't theme my phone anymore is the day I return to Android and learn to function with the deficiencies that effect productivity. Trust me there's an app for that.

Actually, it is true. I was not implying that RIM made themes, as evident from my naming of key theme builders. But they DO make the software that supports the themes, both the OS structure itself and the separate theme builder code. These things take time and effort and resources and money to produce and support and maintain, and these resources are delivering those things at the expense of other core user experience items. As many in software know, saying no to good things is often very necessary.

Correct, I guess I just wanted to make it clear that the other platforms can be and are themed every day. Sometimes it is the right thing to do to say no to a good thing, however in this case I personally feel that themes are an intrinsic piece of the BlackBerry identity and while the tools are sub par I don't believe that removing customization is something that they can afford to do. Considering the barren app selection and other areas they are falling behind. I really want them to defy the odds and wow me next week at DevCon but for even the most loyal BlackBerry fan it's hard to deny that RIM is falling further and further behind.

Themes are an integral part of my BB experience. I find the preloaded themese to be bulky and takes up too much space on the home screen. I'm a minimalist and like the themes that reflect it!

RIM should be making themes, that way we know they work. And those themes should only change colours, wallpapers, and fonts. Leave the icons alone! I can't tell you how many times I've been handed a friend or co-workers BB to troubleshoot, only to have to sit there trying to figure out where functions are because their icons have been radically altered by a theme.


Every extra level of customization that is offered adds another layer of potential problems, which then gets blamed on guess who? RIM. Even though it has nothing to do with them.

The problem is that most people don't know how to use their phones. that's why they blame the phone instead of the app. Don't get me wrong, there are some beautiful themes out there made by very capable developers (i.e. Hedone Design, Cocky Culture) but there's also a lot of crap that I think hurts the Blackberry brand.

1 QUESTION... Why would they if everyone LOVES THE NON CUSTOMIZABLE PIECE OF SHIT IPHONE? They probably figured since nobody wanted a customizable BlackBerry that they will become one with NON CUSTOMIZATION... WAY TO GO APPLE FOR FUCKING UP YET ANOTHER TRADITION! FUCK YOU APPLE!

Themes are unique to the BlackBerry platform...in an environment where everyone can get emails and im clients on their respective devices...I believe RIM would be sadly mistaken to ignore something that actually helps them stand out from the crowd...

For the people that don't think themes are such an important part of an experience in a mobile device think about the thousands of people that either root or jailbreak their device in order to customize to their liking. These people go out of their way just to "theme" their device.

Now with BlackBerry this theme feature comes natively. I understand RIM needs to concentrate on the apps for QNX but what is the harm in uncluding themes?

And I just love that I can express myself through the themes I develop and get to spread joy one theme at a time :)

while reading these responses i was genuinely gonna get to the end and pretty much write this exact thing.
the biggest thing i hear about droids(from people i know) is that they can "root" them and make them like they want. and i dont know a person with a "jailbroken" iphone that doesnt have a different theme.

No, themes arent "needed" but themes are what gives your phone more personal feel, without having to hack into your phone, which, lets be honest, is the way to ruin your phone if you dont know what you are doing.

themes have made me happy since my Bold 9000. keep em coming.

Ok - I don't like the stock theme that comes on the devices that several people here have said they never use. HA! Although I don't play games (speaking of being childish) I do play around with customizing my device.

I need a good minimal theme for my OS7 Torch 9810. And I need it right now!


Considering the massive outage issue, I'm THINKING RIM needs to get their "ducks in a row"...lets focus on OS7 AND solidifying BIS/BES

Two separate departments....

RIM acquired PLAZMIC in 2001...
RIM acquired TAT in 2010.....

They have obviously placed a very high level of importance on improving the user interface and making the tools available for others to do so....

Don't think TAT was woke up in the middle of the night to come in and fix the BIS outtage...

Themes can be useful. On my Torch 9800 I use SuperTilt 5.0 by SLGTA. It gives a clean looking area for my Wallpaper but through hidden docks and hotspots I have all the apps I use often...20 to be exact yet you would never know it by looking at my home screen. So, yes, themes makers should be supported. They can enhance the user experience.

What, there are people that don't use themes??? OMG. I could not possibly stick to the default, hard to use theme. And it looks horrible. I for one, enjoy using my blackberry, and that includes liking what I see when I use it. Thank goodness for all the the theme developers out there that allow us to customize our phones in unique ways that no other device offers. C'mon RIM you know themes are big part of BB life, we need them.

I, too, like themes. I like to change it up. To me, it is just another version of an app. I don't mind paying for them, have joined theme clubs and have had them special just for me. I love that they completely change my phone like no one else's. If you're not interested-don't download them. But please keep making them available to those of us who really like them. Any many of them keep your icons in the same place. Let the developers have access to OS7-PLEASE!!

Where are the themes for OS7 already???

Theme developers have taken a great deal of time to produce them over the years...many themes have tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of downloads so yes the demand is there. I would agree that some may not customize their phone at all, however many do want them (myself included) and change them depending on the time of year, an event, or for work and play.

Theme builder for OS7 should be a piece of cake for RIM to push out for Developers, they just need to add the new devices!!! Where is it?

Blackberry encourages and needs developers to produce apps in order to compete. One of the easy things people can do to get more from their phone is to customize it! No a theme is not an app, but it is something that clearly makes a Blackberry stand out over iphone and android.

If RIM eliminates themes and customizations then maybe they should remove that little blinking light so they can be even more like the iphones and androids of the world.

Come on RIM sell what sets you apart and support the developers who have supported you...that includes Theme developers too!

What, a large corporation like RIM can't assign 2 people, part time, to develop an OS7 themebuilder? It's the customization of BB that is one of the factors that's keeping me with BB. Without themes I might as well go droid and take advantage of all the apps and superior hardware.

I've spent a hell of a lot of money on themes and i'm officially done with that. Ever since os6 came out, there was nothing that impressed me, interested me, or made functionality easier. In most cases, themes are a waste of time and resources for RIM and 3rd party developers.

When BBX comes out, I want to be able to customize everything to my own liking. Let developers focus on high quality apps. Take their time and charge whatever... I don't care, as long as the app is created with the intent on being the best app in its field. Half-assed apps and themes are not worth wasting a cent on.

I like themes, I like to customize my phone. Thats one of the reasons I have been waiting to purchase a 9930. To me thats one of the attraction to Blackberry phones

I am PRO themes. Its what makes my device mine. Looking at the 9900/9930 screen shot thread, its all the same thing except the wallpaper & the weather app. I like to see originality.

haha +1

i still to this day get a kick out of that thread, wtf is the point? lets all show off how our screens are limited and look exactly the same!

Themes are what makes my Blackberry,my Blackberry!! I love being able to try out new themes and change them to my preferences whether it be for ease of access to a certain app/apps or just according to my mood or seasons/holidays. I don't want my phone to look like everyone else;s phone i want it to look like MY phone.I support theme makers 100% and if people don't like them because they rearrange the folders when they reboot then they just need to find a theme that does not do that because there are plenty of them that don't.

I downloaded Theme Builder and created my own theme, it may not be the most attractive but it efficient for me. That's what I enjoy about BlackBerry, the fact that I was able to download a tool for free to customise my device.

I love themes, I check the developer's zone almost daily hoping for some theme builder news. I miss Bbt Designs so much... I seriously would be raged if RIM didn't allow themes for their devices...

I'm Rob a Crackberry Blackberry addict and I have always loved being able to customize my blackberry and stand out from everyone else and show my phone off to friends and family. The whole reason I havent traded in my 9780 is because OS7 phones don't support themes yet and as a developer for http://BBmagic.com I need to be able to test my themes plus I personally love themes. If QNX doesn't support themes I will have more time to produce apps or I might just switch to developing for android and try my luck there. I guess what im trying to say is blackberry's won't be blackberry's if you can't customize them to your liking.

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!PLEASE SUPPORT THEMES AND THEME DEVELOPERS GUYS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

My kids love themes. Please add them. They are both os7. Wife switched to iphone last month. Just a matter of time before I am the only blackberry standing.

I haven't seen a theme that actually improved the look or functionality of my blackberry over the stock UI, most of them were pretty lame and old school (for OS6). Of course we should have wallpapers and lock screens, but I think the efforts spent making BBX theme-compatible could be put to better use making a better stock UI.

Those themes really sucked though...the whole point behind QNX is to revive and bring about a wow factor I dont want a free or 2.00 theme covering up the flashy new OS

I definitely like to purchase themes for my devices. Actually, I am quite miffed that the updated theme studio has not yet been released. Given the perceived weakening popularity of Blackberry as a company, I would think that RIM should have had all their ducks in a row for this amazing stable of new products that were recently launched. Great products in my view with poor marketing savvy.

i personally think the os6/7 default theme is ugly as hell and super limited when it comes to displaying a wallpaper or berryweather forecast or anything really. i wish RIM would get off their asses and deliver theme builder, but i dont expect much from them anymore. curious to see how imessage will affect RIMs precious BBM, since its really the only selling point they have other than their keyboard now.

themes are one of the main reasons i loved BBs... if they decide to cut out themes to "follow the pack" then RIM is slowly losing my respect

Hi to all from from HedoneDesign!!!!

Given that RIM knows how much important themes are for BlackBerry users and the fact that one of the main selling products on App World are themes, I'm sure they will not stop with support for BlackBerry7 devices, as well as for BBX (QNX) devices.

RIM has always been a bit late with support for themes, but I believe that with new devices we'll get new theme studio, most likely refurbished and much improved and with better support for all of us who continue to develop modern, graphically rich and user-friendly themes.

Regardless of my confidence, it would certainly be good for RIM to show a little more seriousness to the developers, because the inignorance pushes developers to search for new sources of income, which may ultimately lead to withdrawal from the BlackBerry platform.
That is why I would love to see more information on this topic from RIM!!!

Thanx to all and have a nice day!!!

I really hope they allow themes for os7 and QNX devices. I understand that the majority of themes out right now for the older devices aren't top notch, but at least the option is there. It would be a very poor decision to shut out the creative community that still use BlackBerry (myself included). It is a very small community and growing smaller by the day in my circle of friends, and business partners. As a designer that switched from the darkside, I will tell you that Apples "underground theme-ing" community is light years ahead of BlackBerry, and there is only one way to change that....by having BlackBerry designers theme their faces off ;) (It also wouldn't hurt to have RIM release a theme builder version for MAC OS X!) Please RIM, KEEP THEME BUILDER ALIVE!

RIM is, at times, its own worst enemy. Since OS 4.5 it has allowed Theme Builder final releases to lag months behind the OS release. Users want custom themes that take advantage of new features.

If RIM does not allow theme changing in QNX they will a). miss out on a true BlackBerry unique feature and b). upset (being nice here) a LOT of people.

My first berry was an 8330. I spent many weeks and downloads finding a theme which worked well for me. (one which displayed my agenda, and also had room for all the key apps I wanted on my homescreen). When I switched to a Palm Pre Plus, the thing which drove me crazy was not having a homescreen. A simple thing like an extra click into the calendar became incredibly annoying. I do not like the fact that I have to click the bar for the homescreen, and furthermore that the homescreen isn't customizable in os 7 (I now have a 9930). So in a way, I have been waiting for a good theme for 3 years now! Please, release theme builder. The integration of messages and email as well as the ability to theme the device are your strongest attributes!

I don't know why RIM doesn't just allow users to be able to add/move icons to and from the home page like Android. With my Torch, I have to sit here and build these just to be able to move my icons around. While, on my Wife's EVO, I simply... move the icons around. That's my main reason for ever theme'ing. Other than that, give a few scrollable pages and call it a day.

A theme will provide change to the same ole, same ole boring BB experience. Different positions, homescreen navigation, personal customization, individualized expression, a change of pace, and an opportunity to load a selection of icons and deck locations, results in a distinctive interaction with your device. If your a heavy user as I am, its not a bad thing to have a different look, once in awhile....