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RIM: There is No Better Time – Carpe Diem Devs

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Guest contributed article by Alec Saunders, VP, Developer Relations & Ecosystems, Research In Motion

We recently announced a partnership with Appcelerator that includes Titanium support for our upcoming BlackBerry 10 platform, as well as an opportunity for developers to receive BlackBerry 10 Dev Alpha, and Appcelerator Cloud Services (ACS) for free. How do you take advantage of this offer? Simple. Build a BlackBerry 10 app.

I don’t build BlackBerry 10 apps, you say. I say, Why not? There’s never been a better time for a developer who wants commercial success for their apps.

And yes, I’ve heard it all before – that BlackBerry is a dinosaur, that it’s hard to develop for, that people aren’t using BlackBerry smartphones, that there are no apps on BlackBerry. It’s not easy to admit this, but there are elements of truth to these statements… or there were.

It is truly amazing the difference that a year can make.

I took over the reins of the BlackBerry Developer Relations team just over a year ago. At that time, my new team had a meeting to talk about where the developer ecosystem on BlackBerry needed to go. This team was chomping at the bit to start changing the world of BlackBerry development.

And we have. Make no mistake – this is not the BlackBerry platform of two years ago. We had our own list of must-dos to save this platform, but we went to developers and asked them what they needed to get building, and, more importantly, what would entice them to a platform.

We started building out partnerships with open source leaders. We placed our WebWorks and Ripple Emulator platforms on GitHub. We embraced a new native development platform. Gone are the days of native development for BlackBerry in Java. We are now a C/C++ native environment on both BlackBerry PlayBook today, and BlackBerry 10 when it launches in January, 2013.

We partnered with gaming frameworks to help developers port games and content quickly, including Marmalade and Unity. We even opened BlackBerry PlayBook and BlackBerry 10 to Android developers with our Android Runtime and developer tools, so developers could port Android apps in minutes.

When we asked developers what they wanted, they told us a market opportunity – at last count in September, we had 80 million customers downloading almost 180 million apps each month. We have a brand new platform launching that brings a first-to-market advantage that is unrivalled in this crowded app marketplace.

Developers said they wanted hardware to test – we shipped testing devices so they could start building their BlackBerry 10 apps months ahead of launch. They asked for road map information on our tools – we launched arrival boards that show status and timing of tools, and even drill down to API-level information.

Developers told us that they wanted to start making money – regularly. We support carrier billing with over 50 carrier partners in our application store, BlackBerry World. BlackBerry developers make more than 40% more than Android developers per app per month, according to Vision Mobile’s Developer economics Study, 2012.

We are uber confident that developers will make money on BlackBerry 10. So confident, in fact, that we have introduced a 10k commitment to developers. If you build an approved BlackBerry 10 application, you could qualify for a bump up on your app revenue to $10,000. Conditions do apply.

So, we are partnering with Appcelerator to not only have support for BlackBerry 10 by a platform you already know and trust, but also to provide cost-saving incentives to develop for BlackBerry 10. We are committed to developer success and will put our money where our mouth is to the tune of $10,000. We have formed partnerships to allow for simpler porting. We support open source in a way I would argue outshines all our competitors. We have tools and frameworks for C/C++, HTML5, Adobe AIR and Android. And we have fans and loyal customers clamoring for information about our upcoming launch of BlackBerry 10.

When you do not give an opportunity like this a try, you sell your own business short. I guarantee this is a different BlackBerry and a different ecosystem. Follow me at @asaunders. Let’s start this conversation.

Read the RIM/Appcelerator joint press release about mobile developer incentive programs.

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