09-24-2009 04:43 PM
RIM has recently changed the way it handles its Alliances.
In the past (and I'm sorry, this was not my area), I believe you would pay a certain amount of money to RIM, for which they would provide you support, which could be marketing programs, technical support, access to loaner phones for testing and so on. There were I think, tiers depending on how much money you paid.
One of the more useful benefits of the Alliance was the access to BIS-B, which makes network connectivity a whole lot easier in most cases. I have a loaner device sitting on my desk right now from the program.
However RIM have just changed the way they handle Alliances. Now there is a free level - the Registered Members, which is basically a 'networking' group. The next level up is the Associate, and you need to be an Associate to get BIS-B, or as far as I can see, any real benefits. But in addition to paying your fee, you have to achieve certain RIM specified milestones, for which you get points. You need to achieve a certain number of points before your qualify for this level.
While I understand the logic of this, this means, as far as I can see, it is not possible for an independent BlackBerry developer to get to Associate status. And small firms are going to find it difficult.
I'm not going to go into specifics here, but to give you a flavor, from my reading, to achieve Associate Level as an independent you would have to have audited BlackBerry product sales in excess of $50K per quarter, supply RIM with two strong references and one detailed case study, ), attend a conference, promote your RIM Alliance on your Web site and complete your membership Survey. Of course if you don't quite manage the 50K per quarter, you could always sponsor a RIM Event.
And of course once you qualify, you still have to pay your Alliance fee.
I did a little marketing in my degree, and I think one of the best ways to keep competition out of a market is to raise the price of entry to the market. Personally I, and I would have thought RIM, would like more developers, so lowering the price of entry seems like the right thing to do. That does not seem to be what the Alliance program is doing.
Anyway, if you have an opinion on this, please feel free to add to this rant. I would be interested to see if others are similarly concerned.
You may also be interested in comments in this Thread:
09-24-2009 05:24 PM
I have the same concerns. The new program does look quite unfriendly to small/medium players and to those who are just getting started.
One of the questions I have, and am looking to get answers for next week when I talk to our Alliance contact, is whether the members need to meet all the requirements of the tier BEFORE they can use the benefits of that particular tier even though they pay membership fees up front? For a lot of small players, it might take months to gather the required number of points and by the time they get to use the benefits, the membership year will end. If that is really the case, what good is that?
09-24-2009 06:11 PM
Don't know what else i can add apart from it's a shame RIM approach certain things the way they do. Before learning bb programming I would have thought RIM wanted to attract developers, but since then i have had to pay to get signatures, prepare to pay to "give" my app away on app world, and now find $50,000 more!
With hindsight, i know which device i would have created my app for.
09-24-2009 06:25 PM - edited 09-24-2009 06:26 PM
We are a current Alliance partner, and we're finding it more and more difficult every year to justify being in the program.
We have the opinion internally that RIM is trying to weed out the small partners (which includes us). This (to me) seems counter-intuitive, and the exact opposite of what Apple is doing.
The Apple program makes a few of us feel that we picked the wrong horse. Say what you will about the "limitations" of the iPhone vs. Blackberry, but you cannot argue with the numbers.
Having said that, this is a free market. Many of us are releasing our titles on the iPhone platform. At the end of the day, the market will decide who is doing the better job.
09-24-2009 06:34 PM
09-24-2009 07:28 PM
I have concerns about the new Alliance program as well.
I don't think it was designed well for small / independent developers.
I don't like the new point system either - it seems like a burden to me.
Why should we have to pay for the program and then have to do all these other things?
Don't we have enough to do writing code, testing, marketing, tech support, accounting, etc.
Does RIM understand that a lot of us don't have 5 (let alone 500) employees to delegate tasks to?
I think there should be an Alliance tier that makes sense for independent developers.
I suggest that RIM design an entry level tier that costs $500 (US) per year that includes:
The Alliance program will be more successful if RIM does what developers want/need and not just what RIM wants.
09-25-2009 03:33 AM
09-25-2009 04:08 AM - edited 09-25-2009 04:08 AM
I think the new Alliance program signals that small-sized players targetting consumers/prosumers are not (no longer?) important to RIM's revenue stream. Corporates are OK, because they generally don't need BIS-B because they use BES/MDS (and they are paying for it). Bigger players are OK, because they can sign up to the new Alliance program.
I'm overexaggerating a bit here, but how does yet another application that is marginally useful to 100 users worldwide help with RIM's revenue? Yet this application will clog up RIM's network infrastructure (by using BIS-B), RIM's Alliance support, and the Loaner Device program.
09-25-2009 05:03 AM
Thanks for the comments, here is some responses:
@bedathur - agree completely, we have been trying to find out is when we have to meet the requirements. Unfortunately our Alliance partner has always been busy on, you guessed it, the new Alliance program!
@jonberry - that sounds like a good idea
@simon_hain - Thanks for the links Simon, I've been working off the book.
Re certifications, I have had a good look at this. There are currently no recognized Developer Certifications. These points can be gained by getting Certifications in what RIM call the Services Competency. There are 3 tracks to this, all tested using the Prometric facility. The three tracks are:
• BlackBerry Certified Support Specialist
• BlackBerry Certified Server Support Specialist
• BlackBerry Certified Solution Designer
To get the 10 points required for Associate Level, the company needs one person that has reached the required competency in each of these areas. !
For the independent or small company, I think that is going to be difficult.
I appreciate that at DevCon, it appears that you can start the Certification program for Developers, but my understanding is that the test is only the first 1 of the 2 required for certification, there will be another test depending on whether you are a Web or Java developers. I don't know when that test is going to be available.
Anyway, because I couldn't see how this would be included in what an independent Developer could do, I didn't include it in my list above, which means the 10 points has got to come from somewhere else.
Would you like to review the requirements in this light and see how easy it is?
@klyubin - I appreciate that RIM might have a different angle on this, I’m hoping someone will tell us what it is.
However I don’t agree with your comment. Remember that access to BIS-B and Loaner Program is discretionary, so even after paying our Alliance we still have to justify these on a per application basis. So “another application that is marginally useful to 100 users” should not be approved.
But the issue really is the perception that I have, that people are attracted to the iPhone because of all the cool apps. Certainly that is what the TV adds in the UK are telling us.
If RIM want to compete with this, then they need developers. The issue with the Alliance program is it seems to remove a number of developers from this pool, in other words, it means that unless you belong to a largish company that is developing BlackBerry apps already, you can’t be a BlackBerry developer.
This will initially scare off the small players and I think that is bad, that was my initial point. However longer term, this will also scare off potential big players, who will realize they have to commit big resources to dip their toe in the BlackBerry pool. But is Associate membership really required to dip your toe? I think so and I don’t think I’m alone - see RexDoug's comments:
09-25-2009 01:50 PM
First of all, thank you all very much for your feedback. We have spent a lot of time and effort building the new Alliance program with feedback directly from the community and I appreciate you sharing your feedback with us.
I wanted to clarify some points since there appears to be some confusion about the program and how it works.
1) You DO NOT need to obtain the necessary points for a specified level PRIOR to joining the program and that tier. When you join the program, you select a tier that you believe matches what your company can meet for the year. You have the entire first year of the program to meet the requirements of the tier.
2) RIM understands the value that our developer community is providing and the changes to the Alliance program should not be seen as RIM limiting the potential of the community. In fact, it is the complete opposite. Over the past year, we have continued to improve the resources available to the overall developer community with launches of new programs such as the forums, the Issue Tracker, videos, step by step tutorials, etc. The intent is that we want to provide you with everything you need to get started on BlackBerry development free of charge and make sure that the support structure exists to ensure you are successful.
The Alliance program is intended to take that relationship to the next level by offering not only named development support but also by providing business development support, go to market planning, marketing programs, and a variety of other benefits. This should compliment and enhance what we provide to the developer community as a whole rather than detract from it.