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An Experiment In BlackBerry Development

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the berry-casting dept.

Programming 207

ballwall writes "We've all read the stories about how lucrative selling apps on the iPhone can be (or not), but what about other platforms? BlackBerry accounts for twice as many handsets shipped as Apple, according to Gartner, so I decided to find out. I wrote about my experiences developing my first BlackBerry application including sales, platform issues, and a bunch of other things I thought new mobile developers might want to know about."

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So (-1, Flamebait)

oldhack (1037484) | more than 5 years ago | (#28432605)

So yeah, what about it?

Re:So (5, Informative)

ushering05401 (1086795) | more than 5 years ago | (#28433553)

A lot about it. That is a pretty long posting with some insight for people completely unfamiliar with the world of blackberry development.

The story gets an upmod for that, though I suppose it could be seen as a really long plug for the guy's product. He mentions the surge from advertising on blogs and even includes graphs showing his trials vs. sales over time with some bumps pointed out.

A decent read overall.

Re:So (2, Insightful)

ballwall (629887) | more than 5 years ago | (#28433977)

Ssshh. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. :)

In all seriousness, while marketing was the goal I wanted it to be a mutual exchange. (I actually mention that in my conclusion). I hope that there's no less value in it as a result. (I did try to mention the actual product as little as possible)

-Marcus

Re:So (1)

namityadav (989838) | more than 5 years ago | (#28434435)

Well, it should be pretty obvious to everyone that all such stories have "Marketing" as a goal. However that doesn't make this story any less interesting. Kudos, Marcus! And all the best for this app.

Re:So (1)

Alpha830RulZ (939527) | more than 5 years ago | (#28434555)

I, for one, enjoyed the read, and walked away more informed. Thanks for taking the time. I hope your product does well for you.

Sure there are more blackberries (5, Informative)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 5 years ago | (#28432633)

But, there more are corporate users without the right to install anything...

Re:Sure there are more blackberries (5, Informative)

almeida (98786) | more than 5 years ago | (#28433747)

I develop applications for BlackBerry and I've talked to RIM about what restrictions corporate users will see. According to RIM, only 40% of BlackBerry users are on BlackBerry Enterprise Networks (BES) and over 90% of BES installations use the default settings. The default BES settings do not impose any restrictions on the device.

Re:Sure there are more blackberries (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28434887)

Might be modded offtopic, but, can you play any decent games on the BlackBerry?

Or is Windows Mobile or the Iphone better for that? Absolutely necessary for those long lines at the DMV

Blackberry's problem (5, Insightful)

areusche (1297613) | more than 5 years ago | (#28432811)

RIM needs to open the platform up. Nothing more nothing less.

Re:Blackberry's problem (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28432849)

I also prefer an open rim. But goatse is overkill. How am I supposed to jack off to that?

Re:Blackberry's problem (3, Informative)

IANAAC (692242) | more than 5 years ago | (#28432933)

RIM needs to open the platform up. Nothing more nothing less.

I thought Java was already quite open.

Doesn't mean it's easy. But it's open.

Re:Blackberry's problem (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28433003)

Did you RFTA? RIM doesn't totally open up their API to 3rd party developers.

Re:Blackberry's problem (4, Informative)

ushering05401 (1086795) | more than 5 years ago | (#28433599)

Did you RFTA? RIM doesn't totally open up their API to 3rd party developers.

You are not communicating that right. The RIM specific API (ie: device specific functionality) is open to developers but different generations of functionality from these APIs are available only on certain devices.

If you want to access the entire market you have to stay plain vanilla and use straight java.

The author does a good job explaining it if anyone would care to RTFA.

Re:Blackberry's problem (3, Insightful)

Corporate T00l (244210) | more than 5 years ago | (#28433593)

From the article, it seems like the platform already is pretty open:
  • No talk about complexities having to buy an SDK
  • No issues trying to become an "approved" developer
  • No need for an approval committee to decide if your app is worthy for the device

The main complexities seem to have to do with the sheer diversity related to the multi-carrier and multi-hardware aspects of the BB platform (e.g. the author mentions 10 different ways of getting a network connection and shortcomings of the built-in SDK UI widgets).

You forgot the most important thing... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28432873)

Iphone users are fascinated by crappy, shiny things, so they are likely to buy any old app with good marketing.

On the other hand, blackberry users will soberly do a cost-benefit analysis before buying an app, so you're much less likely to sell.

Therefor iphone apps will make more sales.

(ok, mod me down already!)

Re:You forgot the most important thing... (2, Informative)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 5 years ago | (#28432983)

I think the thing is that there are a proportion of users for both platforms that are weary of giving out credit card information, either A) they can't get a credit card because they are too young (and there are large amount of iPhone/Blackberry users who are 16/17) or B) are afraid that their identity might be stolen. The iPhone has gift cards so you can bypass the credit card step, plus a lot of people already have iTunes accounts and gift cards are commonly given out for birthdays, etc.

UTMA accounts (0, Offtopic)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#28433347)

there are a proportion of users for both platforms that are weary of giving out credit card information, either A) they can't get a credit card because they are too young (and there are large amount of iPhone/Blackberry users who are 16/17)

In most cases, a seller who asks for a credit card will take a debit card. Banks in most U.S. states will open a checking account in the name of "$adult as custodian for $child under UTMA" which reverts to $child a few years later, and checking accounts nowadays tend to come with VISA check cards.

or B) are afraid that their identity might be stolen

Do they pay cash for groceries? For car payments?

Re:UTMA accounts (0, Offtopic)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 5 years ago | (#28433407)

In most cases, a seller who asks for a credit card will take a debit card. Banks in most U.S. states will open a checking account in the name of "$adult as custodian for $child under UTMA" which reverts to $child a few years later, and checking accounts nowadays tend to come with VISA check cards.

Yes, but these aren't the "financially responsible independent working for all the fancy phones" kind of kids, but rather, "mom and dad are never home so to compensate buy their kids all the fancy gadgets" type who usually have iPhones and Blackberries.

Do they pay cash for groceries? For car payments?

The thing is the media has them so convinced that their identity will be stolen to the point where buying anything online sounds risky to them. I don't know how many times I've had to convince someone that no, wal-mart isn't going to steal your identity when you buy online from them (over HTTPS of course) nor that some E-Bay seller when you pay with PayPal will hack into your bank accounts. On the other hand these people have no problem with handing credit cards to a waitress for them to do whatever with it. But the fact that its online scares them. I've never really understood it myself considering that more people have been scammed in person than online.

Re:You forgot the most important thing... (2, Interesting)

mattack2 (1165421) | more than 5 years ago | (#28433333)

Iphone users are fascinated by crappy, shiny things, so they are likely to buy any old app with good marketing.

On the other hand, blackberry users will soberly do a cost-benefit analysis before buying an app, so you're much less likely to sell.

Except for the fact that you didn't RTFA, where he *said* that marketing ended up being a very important part of the process.

Re:You forgot the most important thing... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28433429)

Except for the fact that you didn't RTFA, where he *said* that marketing ended up being a very important part of the process.

Dude, the post was obviously a joke.

Re:You forgot the most important thing... (0, Flamebait)

NicknamesAreStupid (1040118) | more than 5 years ago | (#28434437)

PT Barnum would have developed software for the iPhone. His customers would probably would have developed software for the Blackberry.

Re:You forgot the most important thing... (1, Insightful)

Concerned Onlooker (473481) | more than 5 years ago | (#28434683)

On what do you base this? It sounds more like a jealous rant than anything else. iPhones work very, very well and have a terrific interface. I have purchased a few really great apps for it and the only marketing needed was me looking for something I needed on the App Store.

As for your blackberry users doing a "cost-benefit analysis before buying an app" I would say they'd better. The article mentions that most handheld apps that go on the Blackberry are around $30. The apps available for the iPhone are anywhere from 99 cents to a few dollars so it's inexpensive to try out a few of them. For instance, I have 2 ssh clients for less than half the price of a typical app that would run on a Blackberry. Add in the killer programmable calculator I got and it's all still below the price point of one Blackberry app.

Re:You forgot the most important thing... (2, Insightful)

vux984 (928602) | more than 5 years ago | (#28434777)

For instance, I have 2 ssh clients for less than half the price of a typical app that would run on a Blackberry.

Having to pay for even one ssh client is pretty absurd in the first place. Only in the apple ecosystem would anyone contemplate paying for an ssh client.

smartphone masturbation (-1, Flamebait)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 5 years ago | (#28432901)

So you spend $100 a month on a freaking phone, and then its really no cooler than your old phone, so you spend more money to listen to other people stroke on and on about how THEIR phones are cool, instead of working, hanging out with your SO, your kids, or your pets.

wtf is wrong with people

Thank you (5, Insightful)

Naurgrim (516378) | more than 5 years ago | (#28432911)

Interesting read, ballwall, and I truly wish you luck with your efforts.

I'm not much of a programmer, but as a SysAdmin (*nix by preference, win* by necessity) I was struck by some parallels I've observed. I find blackberries to be painful. Making them work as a mobile email device tied to Exchange requires a shiat-ton of ugly third party software.

If a client bothers to ask, (and they don't), I tell them iPhone first, WinMobile second, blackberry distant third.

BES is, IMHO, a steaming pile - java, dot.net, 32-bit only. Feh. Recent iPhones handle active sync nicely and don't bitch about self-signed certs. WinMobile is a bit harder, but install your certs and you're done. blackberries (I refuse to capitalize) give me pain.

My clients pay $$ for BES CALs, the devices get stupid and need to be factory reset often and re-activated, costing my client more $$ for my time.

A colleague says "blackberries are great, they help me spot THOSE people". I tend to agree. I honestly cannot see the attraction when there are better solutions to talk to an Exchange server - previously mentioned iPhones, WinMobile or a laptop with RPC over HTTP(S) all work more simply and more reliably, and I tell my clients so. Nevertheless, I still hear "but I've got to have a blackberry"!

Re:Thank you (4, Insightful)

InlawBiker (1124825) | more than 5 years ago | (#28433073)

Well, as we are all aware, nobody cares how hard the admin's job is. The Enterprise is BB's target market and they're dug in deep. Just the ability to sync with Exchange calendars, contacts and email is 99% of why Blackberry exists - because BES is great if you're a user. If you're an admin, your job is to support the business and the business wants Exchange sync. Sorry BES admins.

Blackberry has continued to innovate, their phones are really very easy to use. But the Business will gladly quit paying for BES server and the people to run it the instant something better comes along.

Re:Thank you (5, Informative)

gotpaint32 (728082) | more than 5 years ago | (#28433081)

Blackberries on BES offer enterprise features simply unheard of with Winmobile or iphone devices. Windows mobile only recently got the much needed security features such as remote device deactivation and wiping. Blackberries simply offer more for the enterprise such as a slew of custom encryption features, mds for intranet based apps, web proxy features so you can control user's network browsing, full featured logging (down to the phone calls you make) fully customizable IT and security policies, and I'm sure I'm missing a ton of other features that Blackberry offers that has not even been contemplated for Winmobile much less iphones. Maybe you should be offering your customers reasons to use Blackberries and not reasons to make your job easier. You never know, they may think that one of those features you don't care too much about is pretty nifty...

Re:Thank you (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 5 years ago | (#28433675)

Your phone is not a PC, and doesn't have the same security issues as a PC. There's such a thing as just setting a password, and the fancy features are of questionable value, really.

The ease of developing rich custom apps for the iPhone saves time, energy, and money. Which makes the platform compelling, even for enterprises, due to the number of apps available.

The lack of a good development platform for the BB is one of the reasons there are so few apps for it compared to the iPhone.

The wiping/deactivation features on the BB platform are indeed scary, they introduce a new wildcard, a potential unreliability: a BB being wiped at a bad time, intentionally or accidentally.

Imagine if for whatever reason you need to place a 911 call.. and just before you hit send, someone in IT accidentally clicks "wipe your BB", which turns it into a brick (they meant to wipe someone else's, but hey, accidents happen, someone gave the admin a slip of paper with the phone number to be wiped, and a digit was accidentally transposed on the paper).

Image if a script kiddie breaks into the BB server at 2:00am, when everyone's asleep, he can in a single act, wipe the BBs of all the IT admins and management, making them unable to communicate, receive the security alert pages, as the bad guy breaks into more servers, or for that matter, making them unable to open up the password vault on the BB and lookup the OOB management credentials for incident response (b/c it was all on their BBs, and no longer exists).

Imagine if the organization is a government entity or large corporation, the "attacker" is actually an insider, and the malicious wipe or application of a malicious IT policy is initiated during a public emergency, eg terrorist act.

Considering those possibilities, the BB features may actually be security risks in some scenarios: the "central management" is also a central point of compromise (if that point is compromised, then so are the integrity of the BBs and their essential function).

And the logging features are privacy risks, except, clearly for mobiles issued for work use only. But many employers now issue phones with the expectation workers use it as _their_ phone (for even private use), take it home, and are just about always available on it for email, etc, even when on vacation.

Re:Thank you (2, Insightful)

BronsCon (927697) | more than 5 years ago | (#28434093)

When your phone provides its operator access to your email and a host of applications with access to potentially every bit of confidential data about your company, setting a password is only step 1.

The ability to click a button and wipe everything off that device is a MUST, for the occasions when your phone, either forcefully or accidentally, becomes someone else's phone. The ability to encrypt the phone's contents so that the 'new user' must manually go through all of the data and copy it down by hand is quite nifty, as it gives you substantially more time to realize your phone is no longer in your possession and to report it and have it wiped BEFORE they're able to copy everything off of it!

Encryption and remote wipe are the niftiest features of ANY portable device with access to critical company resources.

Re:Thank you (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 5 years ago | (#28434951)

Uh, if you provide your phone access to confidential information without authentication, then that's a security risk.

Any apps used on the device should perform their own authentications.

_Extremely_ sensitive materials should absolutely never be transmitted using e-mail.

Anything stored on the device is possibly in the hands of an attacker, if the phone itself is able to decrypt, encryption or not. Implication is the hax0r can install software on the phone to act as the user and perform automated data dumping.

If nothing else, they can use radio jamming or other techniques to block the wireless signal, or take the phone to an area with poor reception (so the "wipe" command can't be sent to the device)

Point a camera at the phone's display for a while, start at the oldest e-mail message, scroll through it, and hit N, etc, until they've enumerated the contents of every single email on the device

Encryption is only good if the device is completely locked, so the attacker cannot display sensitive info.

Re:Thank you (1)

BronsCon (927697) | more than 5 years ago | (#28435011)

...setting a password is only step 1.

Reading Comprehension: You're Doing it Wrong.

Re:Thank you (2, Informative)

BKX (5066) | more than 5 years ago | (#28434501)

While I half-agree with the rest of your post, your 911 point was non-sense. Federal law bars cellphone manufacturers from preventing 911 dialing in any way. That's why you can always dial 911 on any cellphone whether its activated or not, whether the screen's locked or not, no matter what. Remote bricking someone's phone with RIM's tools won't stop you from using 911.

Re:Thank you (2, Informative)

CrankyFool (680025) | more than 5 years ago | (#28434935)

It can actually be an issue. A wiped Blackberry will still place 911 calls. A Blackberry being wiped, however, will not. And the last time I had a Blackberry wiped from under me (I had a dispute with our Asset Management group; they won), it took about 60 minutes, due to security policies and scrubbing memory. During that time, the Blackberry was useless for any purpose, including placing 911 calls.

Re:Thank you (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28434503)

Imagine if for whatever reason you need to place a 911 call.. and just before you hit send, someone in IT accidentally clicks "wipe your BB", which turns it into a brick

Not really. After the wipe, all the data is gone from the phone (including the microSD card), but you end up with a bare phone that can make phone calls. It's similar to getting a new phone from your cellphone company.

And even with a locked, fully encrypted blackberry, you can make emergency phone calls to 911.

Re:Thank you (1)

dark42 (1085797) | more than 5 years ago | (#28434761)

iPhones have had remote wipe for a year now, since the 2.0 update.

Re:Thank you (3, Informative)

IceCreamGuy (904648) | more than 5 years ago | (#28435019)

Blackberries on BES offer enterprise features simply unheard of with Winmobile or iphone devices.

Maybe unheard of to you. http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/bb123484.aspx [microsoft.com] I count well over 100 group policy settings that can be applied through Activesync to a Windows Mobile 6.1 device. Some of these actually do work on an iPhone as well, such as the password and phone lock policies.

Windows mobile only recently got the much needed security features such as remote device deactivation and wiping.

Windows Mobile + Exchange 2003/2007 have had this functionality since 2005 at the release of Exchange 2003 SP2 http://www.microsoft.com/DOWNLOADS/details.aspx?familyid=535BEF85-3096-45F8-AA43-60F1F58B3C40&displaylang=en [microsoft.com] . It even works on an iPhone. I'd hardly call 2005 "recent" in the IT world.

Re:Thank you (1, Informative)

growse (928427) | more than 5 years ago | (#28433103)

If you run an infrastructure with clients who frequently need factory resets and re-activations, either you've just stumbled across a huge batch of faulty devices, or you're doing it wrong.

Lets not allow an incompetent sysadmin get in the way of trashing a platform that works great for millions though. Right?

Re:Thank you (5, Informative)

Naurgrim (516378) | more than 5 years ago | (#28433441)

OK, fair enough to yours and all of the above replies. I'm replying to yours as it is the harshest, but no hard feelings.

I should have mentioned that I provide services to small and almost medium-sized businesses and orgs. If I was in an "enterprise" admin role my feelings would be different, and so would the needs and realities my clients face. Picture a law office with 8 users, a business with 20 users, an org with 40 users - that's my space. For this space, licensing and labor cost far more than hardware.

For this market segment, BES is not, IMHO, the way to go. Licensing and maintenance will bleed my customers dry. Exchange is the cheapest "groupware"-ish solution I can provide for them. For their mobile devices, the same logic applies - keep licensing and maintenance to a minimum. I appreciate that for "enterprise" the added security and logging of BES/blackberry are desirable. Where I live, selling a decent backup solution is a hard task.

And for those about to suggest it - yes, I have tried the open source route. Hate to say it - they want Office, they want Outlook, they want their calendars/contacts/tasks/etc. That means Exchange. Pains me a bit, but I get over it.

Yes, the web and email and other internet facing servers are on linux VPSs - not gonna put Exchange or Sharepoint on a public IP, but in the LAN I have to go win*. Don't like it, would prefer otherwise, hope to see the day...

Re:Thank you (2, Interesting)

growse (928427) | more than 5 years ago | (#28433491)

Ah, interesting, this makes more sense. Yes, I think I'd agree with you that the BB model works best with huge deployments and probably is less suitable to the small / medium size, mainly for cost reasons.

It tends to be the really big shops that (a) have the cash and (b) draw the attention of the regulators meaning they have to have devices and systems that follow the regulations. I believe, but am not authoritative on this, that the BB system is the only mobile email device that's certified for use under certain regulations. I work in financial services and know that there's a whole bunch of law that intersects with IT there.

But absolutely. If you've got a small shop, winmo is probably the best bang / buck from what I can see. Doesn't make BB a bad platform though, just makes it the wrong tool for that particular job.

Re:Thank you (1)

Naurgrim (516378) | more than 5 years ago | (#28433567)

Thanks Growse,

I appreciate you considering my side. As mentioned, I really should have mentioned the specifics of what I do and what my clients need. I do understand that BES/blackberry give a ton of stuff that is good for large deployments and enterprise. That's not where I live.

Re:Thank you (1)

Degrees (220395) | more than 5 years ago | (#28434765)

For what it is worth, when you do get to the twenty user level, you can sometimes get RIM (or your vendor) to thrown in a free BES license. And with Verizon at least, for an order of twenty BBs or larger, they throw in the BES CAL for free. Now, you still will still want to pay for (some sort of) support contract with RIM. And THAT is a yearly renewable charge. So my point is that at the larger quantities, it's not too expensive, and 'larger' may not be as big as you think.

We have a support contract with RIM, and their tech support has been the best I've ever used. I'm a GroupWise customer, so their support group doesn't have to be that large. But *every* time I have had to call, the support has been *excellent*.

Another option is Novell GroupWise. It runs on Linux now, and Novell throws in the GroupWise Mobile Server. GMS is really just the Nokia Intellisync Suite with some features removed. But - IT IS FREE (with active GroupWise maintenance). The Intellisync server handles (almost) every device known to mankind - except BlackBerry, iPhone, Palm Pre and Android. For the last three, Novell is working on an ActiveSync server, but I have no idea when it will ship. (And if IBM buys them, it may never). Anyway, if you have spare time you might give their eval a try.

Or just ask your comms vendor to work a deal for you with RIM. ;-)

Re:Thank you (1)

baldusi (139651) | more than 5 years ago | (#28434017)

We simply don't use Exchange. We usually keep contacts in our Blackberries, share the contacts though the send to Messenger Contact. And for email we use straight IMAP. We simply don't see the need for Exchange. That and the fact that you can recieve messages with straight gprs signal.
And for any meaningful email you need a QWERTY keyboard.
The truth is that the 9000 series is king of unstable, but we haven't ever need a factory reset. And the enforcement of auto lockon and AES encryption with a routing of weekly backups has saved us from information leaks when a device is lost or stolen.

Re:Thank you (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28434243)

We simply don't use Exchange.

Incidentally, the Blackberry Enterprise Server is also available for Lotus Notes and Novell Groupwise.

We simply don't see the need for Exchange

When your company grows to a decent size, you will see the need (or another groupware solution).

The truth is that the 9000 series is king of unstable,

Really? The Bold (model 9000) is very solid. Are you on an early firmware? The storm (model 9530 on cdma, 9500 on gsm) is a little flaky.

Re:Thank you (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 5 years ago | (#28434105)

How in the world is Exchange, and the Windows environment you need for it, plus all clients *having* to be Windows (at least MS licensed, for money), cheap?

Re:Thank you (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28434351)

IANAL, but I guess similar principles apply: When your company charges $2000 per day to someone for a lawyer's work, and pay that same lawyer $1000 per day in salary, multiplied by the number of lawyers, multiplied by at least a year of usability per license, then the cost of Windows software is relatively miniscule. Uptime, usability etc. matters incredibly much more. If that lawyer feels their laptop spends ten seconds too long starting up, they will get a new one, even if the last one is a five months old VAIO made of the diamond-compressed carbon shitbricks of monk raised lemurs. Ten minutes of annoyance a day adds up to a potentially bad client meeting, especially if the presentation you carefully crafted in a free presentation program doesn't open properly on their laptop.

True software costs in many settings would tend to be specialised software for the business you are running. We got an enterprise software package related to investment management installed, and the cost had a number of zeroes greater than the fingers on my hand (of course, I might be lack a few fingers, or I might not). The CEO who spends time assessing the cost/benefit of Windows vs alternatives on cost alone I would call pretty incompetent or with little to do.

I guess what I am saying is, for any but the lowest-cost, most genericised (or perhaps most incompetently-run and ignorant-of-efficiency) businesses, the cost of Windows licenses is a piss in an ocean.

Re:Thank you (1)

pasamio (737659) | more than 5 years ago | (#28434543)

Reminds me of the week when we had all sorts of "issues" with our blackberry server. We had a tech who rebuilt our BES system three times in the week only to find out that after the week long blaming of us it was actually a problem on their end. First they claimed it wouldn't work in a whole heap of situations, claimed we didn't build the server right and then claimed that it wouldn't work properly in a virtual machine. This is after we'd had it running smoothly for a few months. Turns out they had a fault network card on one of their authentication servers that you need to talk to otherwise it locks you out of your device which randomly killed our BES servers. Yes, works great for millions. There are other issues with servers dying around the world and taking blackberry devices with them, the last organisation I was with almost always had one device that was being shipped to the manufacturer - perhaps you haven't had enough devices yourself or always received good batches?

Re:Thank you (1)

spazimodo (97579) | more than 5 years ago | (#28434789)

I have not worked with BES 5, but it was certainly commonplace on 2.2, 3.6, and 4.0 to have to reset the devices on occasion because they would just stop syncing. I was present for numerous calls involving a help desk person, RIM support, and the carrier to try to get some traveling exec's blackberry working.

The BES is a steaming pile of shit layered upon several other steaming piles of shit. It hammers the crap out of mail servers. The install process involves magical incantations and occasionally modifying the AD schema (this one admittedly is the fault of MS and lazy admins who use domain admin accounts for their mail.) The upgrade process involves something called a "knife edge cutover" I think because slitting your wrists can seem like a practical alternative. There's no reason removing a user from the server and then adding him again should require mucking with the DB tables directly with osql, yet that was the recommended procedure for a while. Wireless activation was a total game of chance well into when activating a Activesync device took a couple minutes and then it never had to be looked at again.

RIM's architecture made sense in 1999 when you couldn't get Internet access via cell. At this point though its an anachronism. I can appreciate the security features and policy management, but there's zero reason that this huge extra infrastructure be required in the days of unlimited mobile Internet access. Why install a BES, an MDS, a bb router, only to send your traffic to RIMs network (which has suffered several outages recently) which then goes to the carriers and to the devices?

BIS pisses me off even more. Why provide an IMAP client when you can force people to provide their login credentials to their honest and trustworthy cell phone carrier? Not to mention that well into 2008 the idea of syncing e-mail (as opposed to POP3 download) was looked at as some sort of freak request. It's not like anyone would want to get their mail from both their phone AND their PC.

Re:Thank you (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28433327)

BES is, IMHO, a steaming pile - java, dot.net,

Ok, BES does use many technologies. The new BES 5 even requires activeX plugins for some web-based admin tools.

32-bit only. Feh.

Ummm, not true. BES has supported 64-bit windows and 64-bit databases for quite a long time.

Recent iPhones handle active sync nicely and don't bitch about self-signed certs.

Ummm, that's called a security flaw by most competent admins. Frankly, if you can't afford $12.99/year (with coupon code) to get a godaddy signed certificate, maybe security isn't what you're looking for. Is it possible to install your own certificate authority on iphone (or is it that apple doesn't let you)? You can install your own certificates on blackberry, and even manage them all centrally on the BES. You can even use S/MIME & PGP for additional email encryption.

My clients pay $$ for BES CALs, the devices get stupid and need to be factory reset often and re-activated, costing my client more $$ for my time.

Well, then you & your clients don't know how to administer a BES & blackberries. The devices are extremely solid, and almost never need a factory wipe. Of course, most problems will be resolved by a factory wipe & reactivating, but there is almost always a far easier & faster way to resolve the issue, but it seems you don't know that.

When something goes wrong with a windows pc, do you wipe your hard disk & reinstall every time? That will resolve the issue, but there is almost always a simpler, easier & faster solution.

Reactivating a blackberry user on a BES is REALLY HARD! How hard is it? On the BES 4 series, you run the BES console, find the user, right-click on the user, and set the activation password to whatever you like. Then, on the blackberry, go to options, advanced options, enterprise activation, enter your email address, enter the activation password you just set, and click activate. Wasn't that hard?

Frankly, if your clients can't activate a blackberry by themselves, then maybe they aren't smart enough to use email.

I honestly cannot see the attraction when there are better solutions to talk to an Exchange server

Better? How many other solutions have real push email? None (windows mobile comes close with their fake push). How many other mobile email solutions have remote lock, remote unlock, remote wipe, solid AES encryption, certification by many governments [blackberry.com] and other agencies?. Can you force your users to have a password? Can you force your users to always encrypt the blackberry contents? Does your iphone overwrite freed memory so that the contents can't be read by disassembling the device? Nope.

Do you need to restrict your user from browsing the web? Do you need to centrally track SMS, email & phone calls? All this is easy on the BES.

iPhones, WinMobile or a laptop with RPC over HTTP(S) all work more simply

Ok, that's true. The BES platform is complex, but that is because it does so much.

Look, BES isn't for everyone - there is a lot of complexity & a lot to learn. You may be better off with an outsourced BES provider (there are many). Or choose the Blackberry Professional Software (BPS), which is a simpler, easier to use BES-lite.

Re:Thank you (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 5 years ago | (#28433773)

Reactivating a blackberry user on a BES is REALLY HARD! How hard is it? On the BES 4 series, you run the BES console, find the user, right-click on the user, and set the activation password to whatever you like. Then, on the blackberry, go to options, advanced options, enterprise activation, enter your email address, enter the activation password you just set, and click activate.

And then it doesn't activate, because your reception isn't strong enough, and you wind up having to go outside, or drive around, until you can find a place with a strong signal to leave it for 5 minutes. (For some reason the signal required to activate seems to be much much more than required to ever normally operate the unit.. must require transferring a lot of data in a short time period, or something)

The difficulty in activating it isn't the theoretical steps, it's actually a difficulty in getting the device to do what it's supposed to do, after you've executed all the proper steps.

Re:Thank you (2, Interesting)

Naurgrim (516378) | more than 5 years ago | (#28433913)

Ummm, not true. BES has supported 64-bit windows and 64-bit databases for quite a long time.

OK, I'll look into that.

Well, then you & your clients don't know how to administer a BES & blackberries. The devices are extremely solid, and almost never need a factory wipe. Of course, most problems will be resolved by a factory wipe & reactivating, but there is almost always a far easier & faster way to resolve the issue, but it seems you don't know that.

Well. since you are posting AC, I've no problem showing my claws on this response. If you are going to say I don't know what I'm doing, have the courage to state your slashdot ID, at the least.

When something goes wrong with a windows pc, do you wipe your hard disk & reinstall every time? That will resolve the issue, but there is almost always a simpler, easier & faster solution.

Seems to be the one of the most common solutions in "enterprise" situations.

Reactivating a blackberry user on a BES is REALLY HARD! How hard is it? On the BES 4 series, you run the BES console, find the user, right-click on the user, and set the activation password to whatever you like. Then, on the blackberry, go to options, advanced options, enterprise activation, enter your email address, enter the activation password you just set, and click activate. Wasn't that hard?

Not hard for me, but please see my above reply to Growse detailing the realities of what I do and where I live.

Frankly, if your clients can't activate a blackberry by themselves, then maybe they aren't smart enough to use email.

Recent case - end user bought a new blackberry on a whim. No idea what the monkeys at the verizon store did, no idea what the end user did prior to calling me. Had to walk the end user thru inserting the SIM card right side up over the phone. Given the above, first action = factory reset.

Yes, this end user is barely able to use email. Yes, the office manager at my client was concerned about my cost to get him working. So, keeping cost down for my customer = factory reset.

Better? How many other solutions have real push email? None (windows mobile comes close with their fake push). How many other mobile email solutions have remote lock, remote unlock, remote wipe, solid AES encryption, certification by many governments [blackberry.com] and other agencies?. Can you force your users to have a password? Can you force your users to always encrypt the blackberry contents? Does your iphone overwrite freed memory so that the contents can't be read by disassembling the device? Nope.

Do you need to restrict your user from browsing the web? Do you need to centrally track SMS, email & phone calls? All this is easy on the BES.

These do not apply to me or my customers. See my reply to Growse above before you flame me.

As previously mentioned, I should have included details of what I do and what my customers do and need. Bottom line for me and mine is that while BES/blackberry is fine for large deployments and has all sort of features for regulatory compliance, etc. in the SMB space, they are not, IMHO the best option.

Re:Thank you (1)

BronsCon (927697) | more than 5 years ago | (#28434203)

Verizon...

Sim card...

What's that smell?

Troll shit.

Re:Thank you (1)

Naurgrim (516378) | more than 5 years ago | (#28434537)

Whatever - too much whiskey at this point to remember if it was verizon, AT&T, T-mobile, etc. They all suck, and the store monkeys make it worse.

Bottom line, the end use had the thingamajig in upside-fuckin-down. You weren't there.

After fixing this part, the factory reset and activation of the new device went fine.

Re:Thank you (2, Insightful)

TheRealSlimShady (253441) | more than 5 years ago | (#28433431)

You know, bitching about self signed certs is actually a Good Thing. I'd rather my device/client told me that a cert is only self signed, then that gives me an indication of the level of trust (a self signed certificate just says "i'm ok, trust me").

Re:Thank you (2, Informative)

Corporate T00l (244210) | more than 5 years ago | (#28433705)

I worked for a small company that subscribed to an outsourced BES+Exchange hosting service on a per-user subscription basis.

I have to say, my experience as a user was fabulous. The syncing across calendar, mail, and contacts "just worked". Most sync tools have hidden reset options to clear you local version and restore from remote, clear the remote version and restore from local, or some kind of complex manual conflict reconcilation mechanism.

With BES, there are no such options, and you don't need them. The system just works. Nothing weird happened if I tried to erase a contact from my blackberry and my Outlook at the same time or added a calendar entry from one and then moved it on the other. Everything was push based, so changes got propagated out instantly, rather than on some kind of 1 hour poll interval. I could send out multi-person invites just using the blackberry, and other people would get them just as if I'd sent them from Outlook. In fact, the BB was often more reliable than Outlook since it dealt better with network flakiness/slowness.

But then, my company got acquired by a company that didn't use Exchange, had no BES, but had standardized on BB and iPhone. In this environment, things were radically different. Without the BES+Exchange combo, you need to use a 3rd party clunky app (possibly more than 1 depending on your setup) and you can forget about real-time anything. Everything is on at least 5 minute delay or worse (calendar and contacts are on like, 2 hour delay).

5 minute delay doesn't sound like much, but with the Exchange+BES combo, BB wielders got used to e-mailing each other as if it were IM and having a stream of 1 line conversations with each other. Now, we need to consider what we want to say and switch to SMS if we want to converse with faster turnaround (at the cost of having to cmprss r words to sub 160 chr bites).

Re:Thank you (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 5 years ago | (#28434083)

The obvious error here, is that you have to use Exchange as the e-mail server (if you can still call that e-mail). ^^

Put some CourierIMAPS on there, if you can.

BB vs Windows Mobile (1)

raind (174356) | more than 5 years ago | (#28434091)

No way have I found a BB device less painful to support than a Windows Mobile phone. Both have there problems, most time it's the provider or user. If you have a good running Exchange server(s) I'll take a BB everytime.

Re:Thank you (1)

BSDevil (301159) | more than 5 years ago | (#28434239)

Making them work as a mobile email device tied to Exchange requires a shiat-ton of ugly third party software.

Or you need better support/training. Or you're just biased against the BES system. Yeah, it's got its quirks (like most pieces of software that size), but once you figure it out it's not especially difficult, and takes about a minute to create a new user and provision the device.

Also may have been that the guy that taught me how to do it used to do BES SV&V at RIM until he decided he didn't like living in Kitchener-Waterloo any more.

Stay away! Far far away! (1)

blogger11 (1561695) | more than 5 years ago | (#28432931)

Well I haven't developed any native blackberry software myself. I have however worked on many web sites with mobile front ends. Doing web dev for blackberry devices can be a real pain. First off, most RIM devices have very small screens and secondly, their browsers are much less polished then their competitor the iPhone's. If anyone here is willing to take my advice, I suggest that you forget that RIM exists and stick with more modern operating systems such as Google Android and the iPhone's "osx".

SiteList [sitelist.ca] - The Open Web Directory... Add your favorite sites today!

Total (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28432947)

No total sales overall graph, only moving averages of dsales/dt?

Re:Total (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 5 years ago | (#28432969)

Well, that's easy, just integrate it and beg somebody to tell you what the constant is. Problem solved.

Re:Total (4, Informative)

ballwall (629887) | more than 5 years ago | (#28433023)

Whoops, oversight on my part. Total sales stand at 2382 copies as of the data in the article (at an average net of $8.50 per sale I've made just over $20k). Thanks for pointing that out. I'd update the site but I'm afraid to break at the moment.

Re:Total (2, Insightful)

Fluffeh (1273756) | more than 5 years ago | (#28433509)

Curious to find out if you think that 20k is a reasonable return on your investment programming it in the first place? Have you done some analysis on your hourly rate after you look at your time spent working and income returns?

Was it a case of "I want to make money" or "Hmmm, how does this thing work... Oh, money..."

Re:Total (5, Interesting)

ballwall (629887) | more than 5 years ago | (#28433667)

Much more on the "This will be fun... Oooh, money" side.

Well, and a lot of "#@$&* why is there no app to do podcasts on BlackBerry?". (Commuting sucks without podcasts, imo).

The interesting part is most of the costs are up front. I took two weeks off of work to write the initial version, and after that I've been tweaking it nights and one or two weekend days (two at first, maybe half of one now).

In hindsight I should have tracked my time better, but I'd estimate I spent just over 250 hours in code, and I probably spend about 6 hours a week doing support these days (much less earlier), so about 400-450 hours to this point. That works out to be somewhere between $45-50/hour.

But... the majority of the work is done at this point and I'm still bringing in an additional $1k/week with the ongoing sales, so the picture is getting continually better. It'll be interesting to see how long it keeps up. This slashdot article (and the waves it makes) will likely be the last bit of marketing hoorah I can get out of this app, so while I'm hopeful, I'm not optimistic. As I said in the article, marketing is really really important. (Well, until the App World gets some marketing of its own, I suppose).

Regardless of how it turns out, it was still a lot of fun. And my users seriously rock.

-Marcus

Re:Total (1)

arf_barf (639612) | more than 5 years ago | (#28434809)

Loved the article. There are not many people/companies that will share these kinds of details. Kudos.

Once the slashdoting dust settles could you please update the article with post slashdot data ;-)

Thanks

Re:Total (1)

baldusi (139651) | more than 5 years ago | (#28434047)

Please do a follow up on what was the effect of the slashdot effect.

Re:Total (1)

ballwall (629887) | more than 5 years ago | (#28434237)

A couple of people have asked for that via email.

I set up this forum post [versatilemonkey.com] as a placeholder where I'll post an analysis this weekend (if you want to bookmark or subscribe to it). It's locked so you don't have to worry about errant notices.

-Marcus

Bad UI library (4, Interesting)

Jeffrey Baker (6191) | more than 5 years ago | (#28433009)

He's certainly right about one thing: his app has an ass UI. It's RIM's fault, of course. On the Palm, Android, or iPhone platforms even "hello, world!" looks great. On BlackBerry it's impossible to get even a simple app to look good. All apps on BlackBerry that do, in fact, look good are using full-custom drawing engines. See Bloomberg, Facebook, etc. For the small developer, doing your own custom drawing is a huge undertaking assuming you have any visual design talent to speak of.

Re:Bad UI library (3, Interesting)

mattack2 (1165421) | more than 5 years ago | (#28433167)

So then it seems like a developer has an opportunity to provide a library/framework/whatever you want to call it to provide a UI as a product.

Re:Bad UI library (1)

ballwall (629887) | more than 5 years ago | (#28433269)

I think RIM really needs to get on it. Not having a unified look and feel in only going to hurt the platform in the long run. (Not that I care, personally)

Re:Bad UI library (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28433571)

RIM's a company of geeks, and you can be sure a lot of RIM employees read slashdot and have read your article with interest, and will be talking about it at the watercooler tomorrow morning.

Like me. And I quite agree with a lot of points you've made.

Re:Bad UI library (1)

Jeffrey Baker (6191) | more than 5 years ago | (#28433413)

Yes, it certainly would be a nice opportunity for someone to provide a framework or library for nice looking UI elements. There is also a business opportunity to make a library or possibly a service that takes the pain -- and it is a great deal of pain -- out of implementing BlackBerry's highly touted "push" network feature.

It seems more likely to me in the long run that RIM will simply buy Palm. One of them has good hardware and a solid operating system foundation, and the other has a spiffy user interface and a consumer market strategy that passes the laugh test.

Re:Bad UI library (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 5 years ago | (#28434023)

There are already some UI libraries [just2me.com] that add to Java ME, e.g. Apime, Pax Java ME [paxmodept.com] .

And i'm sure there are others, that's just what is found by a cursory search for J2ME GUI Library

Re:Bad UI library (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28433511)

You can use lwuit [java.net] on the blackberry. This can provide a nice UI to J2ME applications.

Re:Bad UI library (1)

jcr (53032) | more than 5 years ago | (#28434325)

his app has an ass UI. It's RIM's fault, of course.

RIM may not be helping much, but that doesn't make it their fault. A developer certainly has the option of implementing their own UI.

-jcr

The thing about Blackberry (5, Insightful)

erroneus (253617) | more than 5 years ago | (#28433049)

The thing about Blackberry that the business users love most about it is that it works and does exactly what they want it to do. They have their contacts, their email, their to-do list, their notes and a select few other things. They don't need much else. It's perfect the way it is for most users. Adding new software to it is not an entertaining idea for most users.

At the most, they want some mapping... google maps works quite nicely for me, but essentially, Blackberry already does what it needs to do and while some will, most users don't want anything more.

Re:The thing about Blackberry (1)

growse (928427) | more than 5 years ago | (#28433115)

Exactly. Right tool for the job and all that.

Re:The thing about Blackberry (1)

fermion (181285) | more than 5 years ago | (#28433609)

I have to agree that since the iPhone is a consumer device it is much less suitable for business. A blackberry is a workhorse, doing what needs to be done in an efficient manner. Really, it is like the Mac before all the toy gizmos like Quicktime and iTunes became deeply integrated into the OS, or even existed for that matter. One could set up a Mac as a production machine, have it do exactly what you wanted to, and not have to worry about the staff misusing it as a toy. Frankly that was my issue with MS Windows. Too many toys made it a toy and it was hard to use as a production machine without a lot of security and supervision. I am not sure what Apple can do about the iPhone. Right now if salesmen are given the iPhone, everyone will claim that they got a free iPod and video console. Not good for the PR.

Re:The thing about Blackberry (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28434129)

Toy Gizmos? Deeply integrated? You probably shouldn't post about things you know nothing about.

As to the iPhone there are plenty of very large companies using them without the "issues" you are fantasizing about.

Re:The thing about Blackberry (1)

theJML (911853) | more than 5 years ago | (#28434161)

Maybe I'm weird, but I use my iPhone for business. After looking into and working with other's blackberries, I can honestly say that I want none of that Kool-Aid. the iPhone Just Works(tm). I not only get a full featured "I'm not stuck with mobile sites" browser, but RDP which is extremely useful, Fully Encrypted Cisco VPN, AIM/ICQ Which we use all day at work, IRC which the dev team uses, SSH and VNC which come in quite handy being that I'm a linux admin, as well as many other network tools, including built in access to the company's WPA2 protected Wi-Fi and VPN over the 3G when I'm on the beach. All for $50 less than the cheapest WiFi enabled Blackberry on any carrier in the area.

I'd also point out that I'm not alone. In my division, well over half of the smart phone users are running with iPhones. RIM/Palm needs to really step up their game if they don't want to continue to loose market share. I will say the Pre looks fairly good, but it needs a lot of polish, something the iPhone has had a few years for. I'm by no means an Apple fanboy, but you gotta give props where props are due. They made a great platform, and people made some handy apps (IRC/AIM/ICQ/RDP/VNC/SSH/Telnet/etc...), most of which are free, or at most $1.99.

Re:The thing about Blackberry (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 5 years ago | (#28434381)

Yeah, I'm sure you're quite happy with your iPhone. Sounds like a terrific tool. Are you an AT&T subscriber? I guess you are. Blackberry is available to all carriers. iPhone is restricted to AT&T at the moment. Hope that changes.

I'm not saying anything about "blackberry vs. iphone" though. In fact, my original comment didn't even come close to talking about iphone. What I was commenting on was the culture of blackberry users. The users who use blackberry, do so because it does exactly what they want it to do and has a reputation for being exactly what it is. iPhone, now that you bring it up, has a reputation for being a fun toy. While I believe you when you say it is an incredibly useful tool, I have to insist that its reputation is quite a bit different from reality.

Re:The thing about Blackberry (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28434269)

Yeah and PC's will never need more than 128k of ram. Just because they use they key features of the Blackberry doesn't mean they wouldn't like more or better if they could get it. I will never understand IT people who think this way. Like a lot of IT people I have been using Blackberries for a very long time. I could not wait to dump it for an iPhone which gives me dramatically greater capabilities. RIM has to do something about their ancient and creaky OS in order to do something about the UI or to provide apps with iPhone like capabilities including in hardware. It's a kludge OS.

Re:The thing about Blackberry (3, Interesting)

erroneus (253617) | more than 5 years ago | (#28434423)

The reason many people, not only IT people, prefer Blackberry is because it is solid and reliable. They don't care if it has access to a software shop online that enables them to buy a zippo lighter simulator or a lightsaber thing. They turn it on, it works. It doesn't nag the user for updates and places the management of the device squarely in the hands of the administrators where it belongs.

And, oh yeah, I can take out the battery if I want to.

Experience from user (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28433133)

Man I have called Symbian and especially Nokia hopeless until I helped my cousin update his blackberry and back it up on Windows using boot camp on OS X.

That client software, which the horrible experience starts from downloading with uname and password, a gigantic file over HTTPS with IE is not just horrible, it is even offensive to Windows development. Yes, Windows can not be that bad, at last resort if you call it that bad, Trolltech Qt is available for years. I didn't check it and I am also afraid of the result, did they code it in Java? I mean coding with Java could make sense, it does not have to look horrible but... If you don't have courtesy of releasing it for OS X and Linux, why bother?

The update manager... Now that will make Nokia owners proud... It downloads 400+ tiny files over HTTP, realtime (what can go wrong?) and pushes it to device one by one. That is the most risky update process I have ever did and I am kind of a guy who dares to update his phone under MS Virtual PC on G5 running XP.

As it backed up, updated, I thought I better do a favor to guy as I forced him to update risk and boot camp risk on Macbook. I couldn't find any app at all! I went to Crackberry, I saw themes installed with ZIP file, which are extracted to device memory and selected... No verification of theme compatibility, no tiny SVG like Nokia. There is risk of messing entire UI.

I have one question in mind and trust me, I hate iPhone fascist device too... Nokia sells because they have a open attitude, company culture, people using their stuff for years (watch experienced Symbian users), Europe based company with Euro style... Question is How can Blackberry sell devices?

To the poster of that great article: You should have used J2ME with multimedia etc. extensions. You should have released it for all J2ME devices and compare that experience.

love podtrapper (4, Interesting)

Mr. X (17716) | more than 5 years ago | (#28433139)

I've been a PodTrapper user since this past January, and I have recently started looking into BlackBerry Development myself. As his write-up makes clear, Marcus at Versatile Monkey has to be one of the best developers I've had the pleasure with interacting with. I really appreciate the 'insider' view of developing for BlackBerry, and I'm sure his observations will be useful for my own pursuits.

Re:love podtrapper (1)

mgblst (80109) | more than 5 years ago | (#28434453)

I have looked at getting into bb development as well, but it is just pure hell. I have an old 8700, I can't even find out if it can run application, and I can use it as a developer platform. There is no guide on the bb website to tell anyone this, going to this shitty bb page for the 8700 reveals no useful information.

They have made it so painful I will not be going back, they can go fuck themselves. Useless fuckers can't even produce a simple document detailing what software you need.

Re:love podtrapper (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28434841)

I have looked at getting into bb development as well, but it is just pure hell. I have an old 8700, I can't even find out if it can run application, and I can use it as a developer platform. There is no guide on the bb website to tell anyone this, going to this shitty bb page for the 8700 reveals no useful information.

Yes, the 8700 can run applications. You need to learn how to search with google. RIM even releases free blackberry emulators so that you can test on different models. Some links for you:

http://www.blackberry.com/developers/downloads/simulators/index.shtml [blackberry.com]
http://na.blackberry.com/eng/developers/ [blackberry.com]
http://www.blackberry.com/developers/downloads/ [blackberry.com]
http://na.blackberry.com/eng/developers/javaappdev/javadevenv.jsp [blackberry.com]
http://today.java.net/pub/a/today/2006/01/24/introduction-to-blackberry-j2me.html [java.net]
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AVFi39yvAr8 [youtube.com]

Boil it Down (3, Interesting)

iluvcapra (782887) | more than 5 years ago | (#28433145)

I'm sorta cribbing from his summary, but I did RTFA...

Pro:

  • Code in Java
  • No App Store
  • Got licensing DRM to work...
  • Web/press reviews were important to success
  • App World is Good Thing

Con

  • Different platforms/versions
  • Very limited UI toolkit
  • Networking, particularly testing network reachability, seems overly complicated based on his description
  • Many BB devices are very resource constrained, and this a problem for many obvious and obscure reasons
  • Got licensing DRM to work, but is a hack and doesn't allow all the options author wanted
  • Not all retailers as good as App World

Most important lesson IMHO: "Everything is marketing."

His issues with the platform and the resources available on a BB really bring the differences with iPhone OSX and BB into relief. An iPhone is guaranteed to have a particular hardware config, and be very capacious in RAM and drive space, and has very teh shiny widgets and will always have the latest APIs; it also provides a brainless e-commerce platform to sell and install your app, to the point where buying a mobile app could be considered impulsive. You pay for all this with the fact that the Apple overmind decides if you can sell your app or not and takes its cut.

Re:Boil it Down (1)

davester666 (731373) | more than 5 years ago | (#28433711)

...and software config...

The thing that the iPhone has over the other OS's is that the OS and the installed applications are easy to update.

The OS has a big 'Update' button on the same tab as the the Sync button in iTunes.app.

Now Apple could make updating Applications easier, as it's hidden as a small button in the iTunes Applications panel.

Microsoft's problem with licensing their OS is that their 'customer' [namely, the device manufacturers] get no benefit to allowing users to upgrade the OS installed in their phone. Hell, Microsoft probably charges them extra for the right to ship updates to the OS.

I think this blog really highlights what the other manufacturers are missing
-like having a wide variety of low-quality frameworks
-really limited installed memory [both RAM and for storage]
        having such a small amount of RAM for processing kills the 'feature' that you can have multiple apps running. Yes it works, but if the experience for the end-user winds up sucking so much that they have to restart or reset the device, is it really that useful?
        (really RIM, you want us to re-download apps from your servers as a workaround to having such a small amount of memory to store them in)
-the wide variety of handsets and controls you potentially have to deal with

Re:Boil it Down (1)

iluvcapra (782887) | more than 5 years ago | (#28434213)

Now Apple could make updating Applications easier, as it's hidden as a small button in the iTunes Applications panel.

It's hard to miss when your third-party iPhone apps are ready to upgrade, the App Store app gets a big red badge telling you a new version of SuperFoo is available.

The memory point struck me too. BBs are the defacto standard for text messaging, but many of them only have 32 or 64 megs of RAM and maybe a Gig of onboard storage (though with an SD slot). Only the Storm begins to compare to something like the Pre or a 3G (non S) iPhone, and then marginally. I'm not saying BBs are bad, it's just clear how quickly the whole smartphone market has gotten out from under BB, and really how special-purpose their devices are compared to this next gen of "media" smartphones.

Re:Boil it Down (1)

BSDevil (301159) | more than 5 years ago | (#28434317)

  • Networking, particularly testing network reachability, seems overly complicated based on his description

For that specific point, this is one of those features that doesn't make any sense to most developers, but is great if you're a very good BES admin. The idea, from that point of view, is that you have very fine control over how applications (and this includes internal RIM ones) connect to the network so that you can control costs that may arise from downloading large files. For example, you may set it so that you can only download software updates on WiFi or Serial Bypass, but that you can download high-priority ones over the network if WiFi isn't available.

Having said that, you would think that there'd be a wrapper API where you could just ask it the BES to make the decisions for you, if your app signifies (by using the particular call) that it's OK with pretty much any type of connection.

Re:Boil it Down (1)

arf_barf (639612) | more than 5 years ago | (#28434869)

Every mobile platform has issues (even or especially the JesusPhone). Symbian has issues, WinMo has issues. It just a question your perseverance and if the target platform is willing to deal with you. WinMo is cheap to develop, but the manufacturers don't give you drivers to the nice hardware. Symbian is expensive and difficult, but Nokia has API for every piece of hardware they stick into their phones etc.

As for Apple, well I joined the anti -apple cult...

Huge demand (1)

Geekthing (541122) | more than 5 years ago | (#28433505)

You do have to take into account that PodTrapper had huge demand. There was absolutely no solution for OTA podcasts on Blackberry before PodTrapper. It was a game changer. I don't even use my iPod after I got it.

Re:Huge demand (1)

ballwall (629887) | more than 5 years ago | (#28434253)

Very true. I wanted to talk about that in the article but had no way to quantify the impact. It's definitely worth noting, though. Thanks for bringing it up.

-Marcus

Great article (2, Insightful)

sootman (158191) | more than 5 years ago | (#28433551)

Great article so far. I'm only a fraction of the way through it but one part really caught my attention.

RIM has all sorts of UI widgets they use in their first party applications -- rounded corners, sliding screen transitions, gradient list fields, etc. -- but they don't release any of that for use by third party developers. The results are apps with wildly inconsistent UIs, created by developers who had to spend considerable effort making them inconsistent.

Say what you will about Apple, they really want developers to create great-looking apps that look at home on the iPhone, and they really do a good job of giving developers almost all the tools that they use themselves. (Same with OS X/XCode itself.) Someday an anthropology student will write a great tome on the different development communities and their relationships with the vendors: BeOS, Palm, Apple, MS...

You chose poorly (0)

actionbastard (1206160) | more than 5 years ago | (#28433611)

If you'd selected the iPhone to develop for, right now, you'd be sitting on a beach earning twenty percent.

Re:You chose poorly (1)

ballwall (629887) | more than 5 years ago | (#28433743)

IIRC the only podcasts apps created for iPhone by third parties were all rejected by the app store.

/. Effect (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28434241)

Let us see a graph of sales after the slashdot post.
 

Sounds like a lot of trouble. (0)

jcr (53032) | more than 5 years ago | (#28434359)

What I take away from TFA is that developing an app for the Blackberry is more hassle than it's worth.

-jcr

Re:Sounds like a lot of trouble. (1)

ballwall (629887) | more than 5 years ago | (#28434467)

Not at all. If that was the impression I gave I think I did a poor job of communicating. I have gripes, definitely, but I had a lot of fun doing it. And, platform wise, this app wouldn't even be possible on the iPhone or Pre. (I am thinking about porting to Android, though, if their user numbers pick up).

I would have loved to know some of the stuff I know now before I started, and help from RIM on the look and feel, but that's about it.

-Marcus

Re:Sounds like a lot of trouble. (1)

jcr (53032) | more than 5 years ago | (#28434873)

platform wise, this app wouldn't even be possible on the iPhone or Pre.

Why not?

Do you mean that the iPhone and the Pre prohibit this kind of app, or are you referring to the availability of Java?

-jcr

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