As I mentioned few days back, developer loyalty is a rarity these days, especially in the fast growing mobile app segment. And when it’s not happening for you, it’s not happening for you. Things keep going from bad to worse to even worse for Waterloo’s Research In Motion.
Last week, RIM revealed fiscal numbers that were below expectations and announced that it planned to cut jobs. As expected, developer confidence on the BlackBerry platform has plummeted. Seesmic, which develops mobile and desktop clients for social media platforms including Twitter, is the first in line to hop off the BlackBerry bandwagon. The company yesterday announced that it will discontinue support for its BlackBerry smartphone client later this month.
While some believe that Seesmic discontinuing support for BlackBerry is of “no consequence“, I strongly believe that it represents early signs of a mass developer exodus away from RIM. After jolted investor confidence, stock price pounding and questions of the company’s leadership, a developer stampede surely sounds like the last nail in RIM’s coffin.
Seesmic says the decision to stop support for the Blackberry OS is to concentrate on their more popular operating systems, namely Android, iOS and Windows Phone 7. The company is encouraging Blackberry users to try out alternative offerings such as Twitter for Blackberry, UberSocial or Socialscope. Of course, it opens up an opportunity for other developers to fill in the gap. But things look bleak for RIM, and the developers know it. The BlackBerry platform once thrived upon the large number of apps which translated into more customers and higher revenues. However, developer enthusiasm on the BlackBerry platform seems to be a thing of the past.
Business Insider states that it had “talked to other mobile developers who are considering the same move”. There’s no doubt that a mass developer exodus will hurt RIM badly. In the past, RIM has done everything it could in order to keep the developer community rejuvenated. It gave away free developer PlayBooks and released a plethora of tools to the ease the development process.
RIM has been under pressure on its smartphone sales and it missed a trick with the PlayBook by not allowing automatic cross porting of BlackBerry apps. Further, the confusion on the future roadmap for the BlackBerry platform is promoting developer unrest as well. Speculations suggest that RIM will adopt the QNX platform but the company simply refuses to confirm or deny any such move.
One thing is for sure – RIM needs to sort out its developer problems soon, or else it would be too late anyway.