Blackberry Provides a Mobile Device Too!

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Since the iPhone came out a year and a half ago, mobile app development has gone into an iPhone-only mode of development. Mostly. The web interface has made it much more conducive to providing a real rich environment for web applications and now that the iPhone 3G has arrived, apps are being produced left and right.

It’s all great, except Apple still has a minority market share in mobile devices. By mobile device, I am referring to smart phones: iPhone, Treo, Blackberry, etc.

In DC, we have a running joke about the iPhone. In DC the preference for a smartphone is a Blackberry. When I get on the Metro, I look around and everyone is fiddling on their Blackberries.

It’s a matter of utility and practicality.

In San Francisco, no one goes without an iPhone, but in DC iPhones are far more scarce.

Yet, mobile application development seems to trend toward iPhones. While iPhone rich applications are great for the “bling” factor, they represent a small minority of customers in the global market that actually can utilize these interfaces.

In my opinion, developers can work within the limitations imposed by RIM to provide rich Blackberry equivalents to their apps. The Facebook App for Blackberry is a shining example of great Blackberry app that has been developed within the context of the RIM framework.

It can be done. It should be done.

I was pitched an iPhone app by a PR guy yesterday and when I scolded him for having an iPhone app and not a Blackberry app as well, he corrected me and gave me access to their prior-released Blackberry version. After fiddling around with it for 30 mins, I realized it just doesn’t work. Why are companies putting out half-assed products?

The Blackberry Storm is coming out, by all accounts, in the next 2-3 weeks and I’ll be one getting it as soon as it comes out. Why? Because Blackberry users know our product sucks. But, we need it. It’s utility. It’s functional. It’s the hub of our digital lives. The Storm will theoretically change that and that is great.

In the meantime, mobile app developers have to recognize the market share and not take an elitist perspective that they can somehow push users to the sexier platform. Because in DC, purchasers don’t care about sexiness. They care about utility. I imagine this city is not alone in that regard.

Comments

  1. says

    Profit motive aside, why should someone build an app for a group of people who (in your own words) know their product sucks and will probably hate the app by association? That’s very demotivating as a developer.

    On top of that, you and I both know what happens when you code to the lowest common denominator. You get IE6 levels of inertia for a time way beyond acceptable. I’m not so sure having an advanced browser and supporting applications to push mobile browser development is a bad thing at all.

  2. says

    Because there is a market share and there is a demand. Just because Blackberry users hate their Blackberries doesn’t mean it is in their power to get something else. Sometimes it is. In a corporate setting, most of the time it is not.

  3. says

    And I, as an example, hate my Blackberry but I’m not considering moving off the Blackberry platform either. Means I sacrifice a bit for the sake of utility. Doesn’t mean I don’t want useful apps. In fact, I might hate my Blackberry less if there were more useful apps.

  4. Kevin says

    I know developing for Windows Mobile sucks (lots), and I’m hoping that developing for the iphone/ipod touch will suck less.

    Developing for black berries sucks I assume. What’s even involved in developing for blackberry? Who do you have to pay, and how much (apple and windows are (fairly) well known)? Is the platform friendly to the ISV/mISV? Is it even possible to make a non-crap application (very hard on WinMo)?

    Kevin

  5. says

    Aaron, I think the reason why you see people in DC using Blackberries in the Metro instead of iPhones is because Verizon has an underground service monopoly. Basically, iPhones would be more popular in DC if they actually worked on the Metro. I look forward to the day when all carriers are given equal access to the underground cellular network.

    • says

      That may be the case for some people from the user perspective from the business perspective, I know lots of IT managers who don’t want to support the iPhone.

  6. says

    i prefer the way blackberrys work in comparison to the I phone, i went through blackberry and iphone training when i worked for o2 and by fair blackberry is more simpler to use and i think it provides more facilities to those who use it.