BlackBerry Live/Jam 2013

I’m at the BlackBerry Live Americas conference in Orlando. Why? Well primarily because of two reasons: 1) the dean asked me if I wanted to attend and is supporting my travel and 2) because I want to see how the company was going to try to regain some of its former glory.

Some answers were provided in this morning’s general session. Blackberry CEO, Thorsten Heins, started his keynote by stating that the turnaround had begun. He noted the accomplishments of getting Blackberry OS 10, the increase of the number of apps on Blackberry World, and putting together a global executive management team. What he didn’t say were, well….numbers. What is the market share? How many of the apps of the 120k they are reporting are just straight ports from Android? Those types of things were missing….and noticeably so.

What was apparent is their view of mobility. It seems that they are viewing a “mobile device” as just about anything. This is evidenced by their integration into cars. They brought out a Bentley that was totally tricked out and built on BlackBerry 10.

Another thing that stood out to me was their view of the mobile experience. The CEO stated that the mobile experience should be different from the desktop experience. This seems to be a very different position than the ones taken by Microsoft and Apple. For example, there is little difference in the user experience between different Windows 8 devices. It will be interesting to see if users will prefer a totally different experience over a similar one.

They also announced that they were extending Blackberry server to support iOS and Android devices, and opening up BBM globally. Both of these are good moves in my opinion, especially in the case of the blackberry server product as organizations struggle to deal with BYOD environments.

I’m currently sitting in the Blackberry Jam session now and they are bringing in people from SAP and Moog to tout their big corporate developer partnerships. It’s interesting to see how they are attempting to engage the developer community.

They are talking now about how their Android runtime can be used to port apps to the BB 10 platform by bringing out an executive from Songza. They used the runtime to bring their app over to Blackberry and are now developing a native app. The question in my mind is this: given the scant market share that Blackberry has, how many companies will follow Songza’s example and continue to develop a native version of the app? To me, if the market share isn’t there to justify the development of a native app, then why do it? The end result of this is a Blackberry World full of substandard apps that will translate into even less market share.

I’ll try to write more as the week progresses.



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