RIM’s expanded App Ecosystem: the benefits for customers and developers

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BlackBerry PlayBook tablet

We recently announced plans to enable developers to leverage existing assets for the BlackBerry® Java® Development Environment and Android® platforms to be easily ported to the BlackBerry® Tablet OS via ‘application players’. The application player for supported Android apps will be available this summer, followed soon after by the application player for supported BlackBerry JDE apps. Both will be available through the BlackBerry App World™ storefront.

As a follow up to this announcement, I thought I’d devote a blog post to explain the benefits for our customers and developers. The bottom line is we continue to advance software technologies and other capabilities in order to offer the best platform for both users and developers.

What does this announcement mean for Customers?

For both consumer and business customers, this announcement reinforces our commitment to providing choice while bolstering our platform. Our customers will benefit from having access to highly optimized and integrated apps developed specifically for the BlackBerry® PlayBook™ tablet using BlackBerry tools, as well as a much bigger catalog of apps drawing from multiple other sources, such as the Adobe® Flash® and Adobe® AIR®, HTML5 and JavaScript® developer communities (as previously announced) – and now the Android developer community. And this is all being done through our BlackBerry App World storefront to manage the app discovery and download processes for consumers.

We are already hearing overwhelmingly positive customer feedback about the greater choice and flexibility that our broad approach will allow: the best apps built for the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet coupled with the “long tail” of apps built for the above-mentioned BlackBerry JDE and Android platforms.

What does this mean for Developers?

  • For the majority of developers, the way to go is still the BlackBerry platform and the widened set of tools we’ve made available. Only these can ensure that the developer harnesses the full power of the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet in terms of extremely rich graphics, full multitasking, and ultrafast processing. BlackBerry smartphone development options include the BlackBerry® WebWorks™ platform. BlackBerry WebWorks offers leading HTML5, CSS3 and JavaScript support on a mobile platform. The BlackBerry WebWorks platform also supports modern web frameworks such as Sencha, PhoneGap, jQuery and Dojo.
  • BlackBerry PlayBook tablet development options currently include BlackBerry WebWorks as well as Adobe® (Flash® and AIR®).
  • RIM will add full tooling support for native C/C++ development for the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet over the coming months. We’re highly confident about this. The QNX team RIM acquired to develop our BlackBerry Tablet OS has won awards for its Eclipse-based native Integrated Development Environment (“IDE”).

Because of the app players we’re providing, if there are developers currently developing for the Android platform, they can now rapidly move onto our platform while they evaluate our other development paths. We can now offer such developers an on-ramp to package and distribute their apps to our growing customer base of consumers, enterprises and governments.

Going forward, we will continue to evolve our various development technologies to deliver the most powerful, flexible and open experiences for developers whether they choose to build with HTML5, Java®, Adobe Flash, Adobe AIR, or native C/C++. And for those developers using our BlackBerry platform tools, we will continue to offer access to a growing set of on-device API’s to enable best-in-class integration with core BlackBerry applications and features (which we call “Super App” experiences). We are also planning to provide a range of advanced cloud-based services including the BlackBerry Payment and Advertising Services, advanced location-based services, application analytics, and powerful Push services. Stay tuned for more details on these future release plans.

Final Thoughts

We believe we are the most committed of any mobile platform to providing both our customers and developers with uncompromised solutions, characterized by offering choice, open standards and tools, and the opportunities to build and enjoy deeply integrated Super App experiences to take advantage of all that the BlackBerry platform has to offer.

We will continue to share more information in the coming weeks so that BlackBerry developers and customers can make informed choices. And stay tuned for more partner announcements along with some exciting details that we will share at the BlackBerry World™ conference in early May.

- Jim Tobin, SVP of the Software, Services & Enterprise Markets business unit at RIM

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