Research In Motion is hoping to meet a major deficiency at the pass by offering a version of its BlackBerry 10 to app developers right out of the gate.
The plan is for the Waterloo-based company to provide app developers with an unreleased prototype device – not a BlackBerry 10 smartphone, mind you – that will run an updated version of the operating system running on the PlayBook. Using this interface, developers can get the jump on pushing out apps for RIM’s newest incarnations.
The prototype device is called the BlackBerry Dev Alpha, but sources say that it will only resemble the product that will be made available to consumers. App developers will receive their devices in May at an Orlando developers’ conference.
RIM has lagged behind companies like Apple in the app department and is hoping to turn those fortunes around with the eventual but delayed release of BlackBerry 10 products. Much like the PlayBook, the release of these devices will be absolutely critical to the company’s future fortunes and could make or break things. RIM has a heck of a lot of ground to make up to Apple and Android devices, of course, and many analysts think that there’s no catching up.
With BlackBerry even having lost its touch in Canada, it’s hard to say what RIM can do to reverse its fortunes. The company is banking heavily on apps to give them a push in the right direction and BlackBerry’s 10’s rumoured capability to unify “the mobile operating system ecosystem” for RIM smartphones and tablets, but it may not be enough.
After all, RIM hasn’t even held home ice advantage. Last week, it was revealed that Apple toppled BlackBerry as the top-selling smartphone in Canada, marking the first time RIM’s devices haven’t been the top-selling in the Great White North since the company’s inception. In 2010, BlackBerry devices outsold iPhones by more than half a million devices. But in 2011, Apple’s iPhones sold 2.85 million to BlackBerry’s 2.08 million.
So are apps the secret to RIM’s comeback? Doubtful. The company has a long road ahead if it wants to recapture some of its past glory, but if the dismal history of Canada’s tech companies tells any story, it’s that the sell-off culture hasn’t worked and the once-proud tradition of Canadian innovation has sadly faded.