BlackBerry Maker Gears Up for a New Battle Against iPhone and Android

May 3, 2012
RIM taps private app developers to build up the BlackBerry 10 release.

BlackBerry maker, Research In Motion (RIM) is arming itself for a dramatic move against market-dominating competitors Apple (IW 500/14) and Google with its BlackBerry 10 device expected out later this year.

The first step in this move: making up lost ground with developer applications.

To do this, RIM unveiled a developer platform for the BlackBerry 10 and handed out about 2,000 prototypes to developers at the BlackBerry World 2012 conference in Florida this week, with the hope of recruiting an enthusiastic group of designers to help build up its catalog.

"There is tremendous interest, anticipation and momentum building toward the launch of BlackBerry 10 devices, and today were extremely excited to release the BlackBerry 10 developer beta tools for general use," said Christopher Smith, vice president, Handheld Application Platform and Tools at RIM at the event.

"Developers can use this first beta of the tools to get started building apps for BlackBerry 10 and as the tools evolve over the coming months, developers will have access to a rich API set that will allow them to build even more integrated apps," he said.

Developer Toolkit

To accompany these prototypes and harness what the company sees as a large public interest, RIM released an initial developer toolkit for native and HTML5 software development available in Beta, free for download from the companys website.

At this point, RIM remains optimistic that private developers will build a library of high-quality content and apps large enough and compelling enough to compete with the iPhone and Android market. With an expected release later this year, this is placing a lot of trust in the open market.

Even with the pressure the puts on the company, however, RIM remains hopeful and encouraged by early interest.

"The level of enthusiasm among developers for BlackBerry 10 is amazing," said Martyn Mallick, vice president, Global Alliances and Business Development at RIM. "The platform has been built to give developers the ability to create amazing content and a great user experience. The support and excitement we already see from developers is both rewarding and encouraging."

If this all works out as the company expects, it will mark the end of a period of sharp decline for the company that culminated in a disastrous fourth-quarter under the guidance of new CEO, Thorsten Heins.

On March 3, the company posted a net loss of $125 million for the fourth quarter, compared to a profit of $418 million the year before. This dragged down the fiscal 2012 profit to $1.16 billion from $3.4 billion in 2012.

According to a new report put out by the International Data Corporation (IDC), RIMs total smartphone shipments in 1Q 2012 totaled just 11.9 million, 50.8% less than last year. Its sales didnt make the top-five list for total mobile shipments for the same period.

Regardless of how this plays out, with RIM and Nokia (IW 1000/61) both going all-in on new devices, this will surely be an interesting year in the mobile industry.

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