The development of relevant apps and their integration into BlackBerryâ€™s newly launched Platform 10 to reflect the companyâ€™s growth strategy is a focal point of Research in Motion (RIM) and the companyâ€™s ongoing mobile strategy.
Tim Neil, Director, Application Platform & Tools Product Management at RIM.
So much so that the company has introduced a Certification Program specifically geared towards global innovators to encourage app relevance and development.
IT News Africa caught up with Tim Neil, Director, Application Platform & Tools Product Management at RIM, about the role of app development and Africaâ€™s contribution to the cause.
What does Platform 10 mean for users in Africa?
This is really a global launch and we are communicating a single message to a worldwide user base about what we are trying to do. It really comes down to being true to our DNA and why people use BlackBerry devices.
We sell a great deal of stuff around one-handed, one-thumb usage. We keep to the DNA, but with a modern spin on how to make it possible through cool, innovative i-traits.
Globally, we will hold true to our roots but we still provide great experiences on issues that have traditionally have not been great experiences on BlackBerry â€“ like media consumption and using the device from an entertainment perspective.
Will the offering be geared to meet regional requirements?
We know that for different markets there will be different price points and times when difference devices willÂ fit into different areas. We have experienced popularity with Curve lines across different spots. Different models will hit different segments and popularity will depend on types of form factors that are enjoyed in those specific regions.
North America has primarily been a dominant on the touch-screen only side of things, our first touch-device was there, while Indonesia has been all over the Curve and focused on BBM-centric social networking, for example. We have experienced a great deal of success with keyboard-devices and weâ€™re hoping to see the same levels of success whilst providing the option between a really great full touch experience and keyboard experience.
The role of developers is critical to BlackBerryâ€™s strategy. What is the level of development and innovation like in Africa?
We have been building up a global developer relations team. Our representative in South Africa is working on growing local groups â€“ one of the main goals within these regions is to have â€˜feet on the street.â€™
Our intention is to have local representatives in countries and areas that can do local meet ups, a more intimate relationship. Drop-in centres are being established around the world to share code, share information and postÂ events. This is an ongoing extension of our existing hub and there are four other sites being established worldwide.
Africa is viewed as being a strategic region for RIM and the brand has achieved recognition, particularly by the youth. Can you elaborate?
It comes back to what we were talking about earlier. It is interesting to see the North American perception of BlackBerry compared to the global perception, especially in youth market. Indonesia is another hotspot â€“ it is incredible to see the social connectedness and popularity, people use a number of devices. They donâ€™t swap their numbers, they swap their pins. It all comes back to groups of people that appreciate and enjoy collaboration. We have also seen in these regions that the cost of ownership is so much less than other devices. The data plans and efficiency that we have means that it is a fraction of the cost to operate the phone on a daily basis. Users can benefit from specialised data plans, tailor the phone to their use.
Developers have an opportunity to present their innovations and contribution to the BlackBerry Certified App Programme. What is the expectation in terms of localised content from markets like Africa?
As part of this programme, we have a set of criteria that we believe makes a great BlackBerry app, those that play towards the benefits and core DNA of the BlackBerry experience. Developers have to submit for consideration by January 2013 for certification and if you secure this certification, we guarantee you that you will make $10 000 in the first year of having your app out there. It was launched a month ago. There is a great deal of interest in the details of the programme, statistics show that apps that take on different characteristic should easily generate $10k. This is really us putting our money where our mouth is. They encourage downloads and purchases of apps, if you do not make $10K in the first year, weâ€™ll pay the difference.