04-09-2011 09:03 AM - last edited on 04-09-2011 12:23 PM by dany_s
If you listened to Jim Balsillies comments at the last financial results teleconference, you'd realise the Android player is simply a response to a vast range of [keep it courteous please] that think numbers of apps is important.
[keep it courteous please] As you rightly say, a reasonable quantity of high quality apps is far more important. (I'd have paid a few million to Rovio to rewrite Angry Birds for Playbook - and probably native C on the BlackBerry).
However these idiots do have an impact on most of the other idiots on the planet some of whom have a couple of brain cells and might just buy a Playbook.
And so RIM is providing what their potential customers want. Should Android developers wish to, they can simply port their apps to App World and they're downloadable to the Playbook.
As a BlackBerry developer I'm seething with anger that Android developers get access to the Playbook before myself. It's a complete sell out of some very loyal RIM stalwarts and they should be ashamed.
As a supporter of RIM I understand why. And there's not just one reason.
The Playbook is a fantastic device and hopefully we're at the start of something huge and of benefit to all those who develop for RIM platforms.
04-09-2011 09:30 AM
It's all about "marketing". Having a "greater number of apps" indicates that it is more likely an app that you need to be productive and/or happier. And in some regards, that is true. True, more apps != quality. However, if the PlayBook had 2x more apps that the iPad, you can count on people in and around the PB would be saying that all the time (indicating that the PB is better).
So we're saying it is not important because we dont have more. So, we're saying quality is more important. A valid argument since there is a lot of junk apps for the iPad. However, we probably have around the same percent of junk apps for PB at this point.
What we need to do as a community is to help each other improve quality and quantity. We should all download each others apps (once we get the device) and encourage improvements to all spectrum of apps. Those apps get better, the developer gets better, the developer gets more download, the developers builds more apps.
Apple has great marketing. We have a great developer community.
04-09-2011 10:24 AM
"Having a "greater number of apps" indicates that it is more likely an app that you need to be productive and/or happier. And in some regards, that is true"
I disagree. It's a complete falacy. In some ways you're buying into the marketing myth. I can create an app for the Playbook in 20 minutes using WebWorks. It does nothing but its an app.
Lets put it in context.
How many games are there for the XBox? How many games are there for Playstation 3? The answer is around 1300 for the XBox and somewhere around 700 for the Playstation. Those numbers are as accurate as I can find.
Do you hear people complaining because there are too few games? Maybe at first when there were only a handful for each device, but I havent heard that complaint recently.
Lets try another stat. RIM has 25,000 apps for BlackBerry. If I download one app a day for the rest of my life I would probably die before I'd finished. It would take almost 70 years. The idea you would need more than 25,000 is nuts. I'd guess a core of a couple of thousand high quality apps would be more than enough. At 25k we have a fair amount of choice for any given application category.
So how come all of a sudden the number of apps is important?
You're 100% correct. It's about marketing. Apples marketing.
Because Apple tend to have pretty but limited devices. (They're far from the best engineered and at least on their mobile devices the OS is very limited). They therefore need to find some other way to create an edge. Number of apps was part of that edge, though since Android has come along it is no longer a distinguishing feature. Fortunately for Apple by the time that happened, they had improved the engineering on the iPhone.
Given that few (if any) analysts are unbiased (some even "benefit" from promoting one or other device), its relatively easy for Apple to create buzz for its own devices that masks their limitations. The tame analysts also provide negative feedback against competitors. You can tell they're "benefiting" because they almost never highlight negative aspects of Apples devices. (Battery life, lack of removable battery, lack of removable SD, poor call quality, high data usage, lack of true push etc)
For example, iPhones don't have the best battery life, yet how many analysts that are now blasting the Playbook over battery life said one word on the subject about iPhones?
I agree entirely with your comment about developers helping developers. The irony is that while we're in competition with one another, we're also the most likely to be supportive - just look at this board (you do a great job of being supportive BTW).
I think we need an independent developers organization - not sponsored by RIM - to promote developer interests with RIM and elsewhere.
At the moment we're entirely in their hands, and RIM will do what it thinks is best for RIM - not for us.
Which is why the simulator is so useless (it has a lousy browser- no options to speak off - no builtin apps to integrate with etc).
Which is also why the development kit is so limited. And why it's pretty clear that at least some of the existing QNX UI components will be redundant in a couple of months when Adobe releases 2.5.
And why App World for vendors is hard work.
I'm still not convinced RIM believes in independent developers. One look at the new builtin calculator will make that clear. If it was available for BlackBerry it would effectively make redundant over 170 BlackBerry apps. And will make redundant quite a few Playbook apps. Instead of sticking with a few basic features, they added scientific, tip, and unit conversion calculators into the mix.
And the RIM developers that came up with the calculator had much better access to device capabilities than any of us.
RIM's developer relations team is fantastic, and RIM staff are helpful on the board (when they have time) but some of the executive decisions and the lack of coherent support (web sites etc) demonstrate the focus at the top is elsewhere. It's possible the lack of cohesion is due to organisational disfunction, but that also is an executive problem.
04-09-2011 11:16 AM
In terms of the quantity argument. It does not matter if there are 10 apps or 10M apps. If there is not an app that I am looking for, the device is of no interest. If I am a "claims adjuster", I will go to the platform that has an app for that. If am I am "gamer", I will go to the device that has the coolest games. If I am a "business person", then I will go to device that can access my back office information in a secure way. All that I was saying is a device that has more apps give a consumer a higher probablility of getting the app they are looking for (not a guarantee).
No one would download every single app (certain someone would though). People only download apps for what they are interested in. If there are 100 music players offered, I will download music players that have the highest reviews until I find one that I like. There is a difference between what is possible and what is practical.
If you want more access to current simulators, SDKs, and greater input into how RIM is run, you can become a preferred partner for about $2K per year. If that is important to you, then the money spent would be worth it.
In terms of "analysts", you have to track down who they work for and who pays for their advertising. The only "analyst" I trust is Consumer's Report.
Of course we're in the hands of RIM. It is their platform. From my conversations with RIM and for what I have seen so far, RIM is trying to adjust to a broader ISV community. Years ago, you had to pay to gain access for anything that was RIM and all of it was hard to work with and there was no one to talk to. So it has gotten a lot better over the years. Even since the fall, RIM has worked very hard to listen to what it is going on. Just because they are not responding to every "good" idea does not mean they are not listening.
Be interested to hear more about "independent developers organization". Not certain how that is different than the current forum. Is it a PAC?
In terms of helping each other. Yes, I would not help a competitor directly. I am certain I probably have helped some of my competitors indirectly. But that leaves a whole bunch that I could directly help to get the apps better.
Can it be better -- you bet.
Good thoughts, keep them coming..
04-09-2011 11:51 AM
I'd have no problem paying the $2k to become an affiliate, but I'm not sure we have the resources to meet the "points" targets, so we'd be affiliates for one year only!
I don't wish to appear unappreciative of RIMs efforts to improve the environment for developers. My point is that despite having spent a fortune on App World etc I'm not convinced RIM sees investing in developer services as a priority.
And so far as I'm aware 0.9.4 is the latest sim - save for those being used internally by RIM.
Developer support has improved dramatically on the Java side over the past two years, but RIM still insist on you paying for key information that is not publicly available. The result is that some useful code that would help app UI considerably remains available only to those that have paid in some way. Or you can take the time away from app development to create the UI components RIM should have supplied from the start.
Look at Playbook app signing. Is it really such a challenge that a simple UI could not have been created to allow selection of bar files, signing of the apps, and provide meaningful error messages if there were errors? We recently spent three hours trying to properly sign a couple of apps - and we had support!
It didn't help that the -proxyhost option is documented but apparently not delivered.
If RIM does see independent developers as a priority, then the only other option is that they're poor at delivering the toolsets. If so perhaps they need a change of management in the area of development tools. Certainly something needs to change.