Inside the BlackBerry Beta Team (Part One)


BlackBerry Feedback Tool

Astute BlackBerry® smartphone users (and regular readers of Inside BlackBerry!) may have noticed an increased focus on product betas from RIM. The Twitter® for BlackBerry smartphones beta update is only the most recent example, but it all started with the launch of the BlackBerry App World™ Test Center in December of last year. With the beta release of the BlackBerry® Feedback Tool this week, I thought now would be a good time to talk to the RIM beta team to learn more about how it all got started and where it’s heading.

Who are you and what do you do?

I’m Stephanie Joiner, the Director of User Engagement. My team works with various product groups here at RIM to run beta programs via BlackBerry® Beta Zone.

First with BlackBerry App World Test Center and now BlackBerry Beta Zone, RIM has embraced external betas. Can you explain the intent behind this new movement?

BlackBerry smartphone users are a passionate group and we wanted to support that enthusiasm and show appreciation for it. The beta programs are a great way engage with our users and help them to participate in the evolution of RIM products, which we feel is central to building products that meet and exceed customer expectations. Our intention with BlackBerry Beta Zone is to provide users with a venue to try out products and provide feedback, and make that easy to do. Not every suggestion can be implemented, but our goal is to be sure we’re constantly aware of the things that matter most to our customers.

BlackBerry Feedback Tool

Was this also the reason for the release of the BlackBerry Feedback Tool?

The name says it all, right? Our greatest resource is our user base and the BlackBerry Feedback Tool is a great way for anyone to send in comments about BlackBerry smartphones and how they are using them. How many times have you been doing something on your BlackBerry smartphone and thought to yourself “Gee, I’d really like to tell someone about ___”? I know I have! The BlackBerry Feedback Tool sits right in the BlackBerry Menu, and lets you share your thoughts in the moment.

What kind of responses are you expecting from BlackBerry Feedback Tool users? Is there anything you’re hoping for or will it all be a surprise?

We don’t really have any preconceived expectations, but we’re hoping the BlackBerry Feedback Tool will be something customers find useful. Beta testing is all about putting it out there and iterating through changes. It will be exciting to see where it takes us. We’re really curious to see how people will use it and look forward to seeing even more suggestions.

Since the launch of BlackBerry App World Test Center and then Beta Zone, your team has been collecting a lot of app-specific feedback. What have we learned so far about how BlackBerry smartphone users use our applications?

Great question! As BlackBerry smartphones have evolved, so have BlackBerry smartphone users and their preferences. Applications that make life easier, as well as social media applications to help people stay in touch with friends and family have been real drivers.

One of the coolest things about BlackBerry Beta Zone is that it too is in beta. What’s the verdict so far on the site and the community?

BlackBerry Beta Zone launched in March and since that time users have been fantastic at giving us feedback to help improve the site and make it their own. We’ve had several updates since our first launch, with nearly all changes based primarily on incoming user feedback, so please – to everyone who has participated and had their say –keep it coming! We’d like to hear from you!

So far the product groups have been amazed by how quick and thorough users are when testing out the products, and I think a lot of that comes from the community feel BlackBerry Beta Zone promotes. Each beta program has its own discussion board where members can share ideas, comments, tips and tricks, anything. I think that community connection is such a big part of what people get from their BlackBerry smartphones, and being able to build on the social nature of our users while we work to empower and learn from them on this site and in these programs, is just fantastic.

Stay tuned for part two of our RIM beta team interview Monday, where Stephanie answers questions sent to us by Inside BlackBerry readers and Twitter followers!

About Douglas Soltys

Word Czar. Web 7.0 (in beta). Blogs and tweets and wonders.

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  • M. Nickelberry

    This beta zone thing was a great idea. It should have been implemented a long time ago. The “blackberry community” has been thoroughly testing and providing feedback on your products on's forums for quite a while.

    Companies really should try to engage with their customers about their products more often. Open source software communities provide a good model for this. I think this sort of thing can be used not only for collecting feedback on beta products but also for addressing customer issues. When I find a bug in my blackberry's software and report it (assuming I can even find a place to report it), it goes into a black hole, I don't know if anyone got my bug report and I don't know when/if it gets fixed. Having access to an open bug tracker brings a higher level of customer service IMO. I know you have the support community forums, but I am talking about something that directly connects users with the developers actually fixing the bugs.

  • Caspan

    Great article. I would love to see the BlackBerry Beta Zone do a bit better at communicating. The forums are very simple to say the least. The forums are a great idea for general chatter about the application but if I have a bug a bug tracking system would be nice. You can post a bug and almost like a support chat work with someone at RIM and reproduce the bug and close the ticket.

    It's kind of helter skelter right now and feel very unorganized so a bug tracking system is a must.

    Love the fact that RIM is doing this because a million screaming voices can sound beautiful but 50 just sounds awful.

  • Douglas tr0n Soltys

    Thanks for the feedback guys! As I said in the post, BlackBerry Beta Zone and BlackBerry Feedback Tool are still in beta, so feedback, commentary and suggestions are extremely helpful and appreciated.

  • Caspan

    Yep completely understood. There doing a great job but have a few step to make before its worth the effort that people put in to it.

    Ill tell you one thing people hate spending time to help a company and than feel like no one is listening when they report bugs. Feeling like you have no voice in a place where you are suppose to have a voice can detour people from helping quick.

    I know that is my problem currently with the Beta site. I feel like my voice is lost in the mix with everyones else. I want to get in line and have someone listen to the bug and triage it and I know my voice has been heard.

  • Tweets that mention Inside the BlackBerry Beta Team (Part One) | Inside BlackBerry --

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  • Caspan

    Glad to see others think the same :)

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    […] Check out the interview with the BlackBerry beta team on IBB (part 1). […]

  • BlackBerryHelp_Pavel


    Thanks for the feedback guys!

  • Behind the Scenes @ The BlackBerry Beta Zone – BerryReview

    […] buddy Doug over at RIM’s official Inside BlackBerry blog gave us a taste of what RIM intentions are for the BlackBerry Beta Zone. He interviewed Stephanie […]

  • Carrie Rothey

    How do I reach an extension at a company where the auto answering system requires you to type in the first few letters of a person's name?

  • Caspan

    This question can be better answered in the support forums here Login and make a post and there are hundreds of people willing to help.

  • Psavoldi

    I am in the US and would like to buy a blackberry, but I need an unblocked one, so I can use with any carrier I may chose when travelling.
    Where in New York or Boston can I find one ?
    I would appreciate any information to my email at
    Thank you

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    […] Read Part One of Inside the BlackBerry Beta Zone […]

  • » Blog Archive » Inside BlackBerry interviews the BlackBerry Beta Zone eam

    […] Read part 1 of the BlackBerry Beta Zone interview […]

  • Caspan

    Please post this question in the BlackBerry Forums located here. You will get better results for your question..

  • Caspan

    Please post this question in the BlackBerry Forums located here. You will get better results for your question..

  • J Sanger

    experienced twice tech support that you now have in the US and that resulted in a 10 hour wait time for me the first time, going through 20-30 tech people betweent ATT and BB and then the second time the same, only 7 hours. I called Rogers this last time and they were able to solve it instantly. I told Jim Balsillie about this and would suggest you do a n=major review of the training of the providers and the BB support at RIM in the US. Its truly appalling.

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