Blackberry maker courts designers

Research in Motion, the maker of BlackBerry is targeting app developers as it makes a new bid to increase its share of the smartphone and tablet market.

RIM plans to target developers by giving them a prototype of their new BlackBerry 10 devices before they go on sale to the public. This will help developers start working on apps so that by the time consumers can get their hands on it they will have new games and features that are available to download and utilise the capability of the device.

RIM says the device they are making available to developers is not a commercial device, meaning it probably won’t be the same one that consumers will be able to buy when it comes on the market later this year. However allowing developers to play around and design exclusive material for a BlackBerry 10 device will help create excitement and enthusiasm which can help promote the new operating systems and new devices that BlackBerry has planned.

RIM’s social media manager Alex Kinsella has said the hardware or operating system is not even the final design. In fact, developers might be able to help BlackBerry spot any gaps or holes in their OS which can be fixed before it is officially launched, ensuring a better product for the consumer.

The announcement is good news for Blackberry and shows they are trialling a new approach. A lot rides on the BlackBerry 10. RIM has fallen far behind its major competitors Apple and Android, in terms of sales and within the app market. The iPhone App Store, the Market on Android phones and increasingly even Windows Phones have huge app libraries offering users a wide range of games, videos, lifestyle apps, apps to stream live TV, organise work, edit pictures etc. Blackberry has struggled to compete and in the current market something users are looking for is variety. Apps offer the opportunity to personalise a smartphone. RIM is starting afresh with Blackberry 10 and is launching a new operating system that it hopes will reboot the brand and how its smartphones are seen.

Blackberry 10 is due to launch later this year. The firm has already unveiled a potential handset for the UK market called Blackberry London which combines a larger screen with rumoured specs including a 1.5GHz dual core processor, 8 megapixel rear facing camera, 2 megapixel camera on the front, 1GB RAM, 16GB internal storage, along with BlackBerry 10. Two other devices will launch in the US.

The device for developers is said to be being made available in May. It has been codenamed Blackberry 10 Dev Alpha and its availability would coincide with the blackberry World Conference which takes place in Florida in the same month

This would be a good development for RIM and BlackBerry 10. Many analysts have said the main thing RIM needs to do is to provide good developer support. Many third party vendors are happy developing apps for Apple and Android and leave blackberry and its OS out. That makes a vicious circle as if the apps are there and the developing community doesn’t show confidence in the brand then there is nothing to entice consumers. No consumers, developers aren’t going to get on-board. By winning over the developer community RIM could help plug this which has left the firm struggling behind its competitors.