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OS Watch: RIM Regrets & iPhone Instructions

Sarah Thomas

Developers just hate developing for BlackBerry 's BlackBerry operating system, according to a Chicago-area developer who kicks off our inaugural OS complaints and compliments column.

Longtime mobile developer Uki Dominque Lucas says the consensus is that building for BlackBerry is difficult thanks to its Java format and that the C-level-executive, email-only user demographics are less than desirable.

"Right now, developers only develop for BlackBerry if they have to -- if they are forced to," Lucas says. "The perception of it has to change."

Granted, Lucas is also the head of Chicago Android, an Android training and development community, but he's been a developer long before he was an Android fanboy. He's also developed for iPhone, RIM, and WebOS, and his 12-year history in the industry has led him to place his bets on Android.

Android has its fair share of issues, Lucas admits, but he doesn't think fragmentation is one of them. It fosters competition and the more competition, the more money to go around, he says. It inspires a classic case of "Jones syndrome" amongst developers.

Not everyone is so eager to keep up though. (See Android’s Fragmentation ‘Problem’, Android’s 5 Flavors of Fragmentation, and Android Defrags, Takes Over.)

  • Frag Watch: It appears Google's software savior could experience even further fragmentation in China where former Google China president Kai-Fu Lee announced plans to launch an Android-based OS, dubbed Tapas. Developed for the China market, it will be coming to smartphones within the next few weeks, featuring such region-specific features as a media player app for karaoke and an e-reader app optimized for reading whilst on the subway.

  • Fart-free iPhones: Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL), for the first time, has released guidelines to help developers through its complicated review process, and the gist of it is: Apps have to be useful, high quality, and can't be offensive. No more farting apps, Apple says.

    Apple also lifted its ban on third-party analytic data by companies "owned or affiliated with a developer or distributor of mobile devices," making Google (Nasdaq: GOOG)'s AdMob Inc. a happy camper. (See RIM Wants Ads, Apple Doesn't and JumpTap Lures Developers From Apple, Google.)

  • Prepping Windows Phone 7: The new Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) operating system will be making its market debut in NYC on Oct. 11, according to Pocket-lint, citing multiple unnamed sources. Handsets will follow soon thereafter.

    We know that all four Tier 1 wireless operators in the US will carry handsets featuring the OS, but IDC says that might not matter. The analyst firm says that Microsoft will regain some lost market share, but will still be dead last in terms of OS by 2014.

    Windows Mobile's worldwide market share is 6.8 percent, but will grow to 9.8 percent of the smartphone market by 2014. Hey, at least it is growing, which is more than IDC is predicting for both RIM and the iPhone.

    — Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile

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    User Rank: Light Beer
    12/5/2012 | 4:24:09 PM
    re: OS Watch: RIM Regrets & iPhone Instructions

    Seriously doubt that Nokia would make that move, even if it is a good idea.

    User Rank: Light Beer
    12/5/2012 | 4:24:08 PM
    re: OS Watch: RIM Regrets & iPhone Instructions

    I don't know that an Android-based RIM device is a good idea, their hardware has been typically sub-par from a performance standpoint and this would become even more apparent if they had operating system parity.  A BlackBerry out of the box runs fine, but third party apps can't take advantage of the specs found in Android superphones.

    What's more disturbing is the perception that they're compromising their typically robust security policies by cooperating with the countries who view unsnoopable traffic as a security risk.  This paired with the Droid 2 and upcoming Droid Pro releases (squarely targeting RIM's corporate bastions who value said security) could lead to some interesting results in a few quarters.  

    I'm also curious about their release of their latest flagship on AT&T rather than a Verizon World Phone as they typically did in the past.  AT&T has a habit of crippling any non-iPhone from a marketing and tech standpoint (no side-loading apps on their Android phones, for example).  But Verizon is also pretty clearly in the Android camp so I guess there's no place else for RIM to go in the US market.

    Maybe they'll be able to make ends meet by selling other manufacturers their biggest asset - fantastic keyboard designs!

    Mark Rejhon
    Mark Rejhon,
    User Rank: Light Beer
    12/5/2012 | 4:23:39 PM
    re: OS Watch: RIM Regrets & iPhone Instructions


    There has been two potential dark horses about RIM's performance, that will become apparent within a year:

    - Most BlackBerry slowness seems to be caused by the Java Virtual Machine the devices use.  Many of the processors run at the same speed as competing smartphones (i.e. BlackBerry Bold 9000 had 628 Mhz ARM), and the Storm series has a 3D GPU too, but some devices may need better chips and software.   Performance may be unlocked by a software revitalization.

    - RIM just purchased QNX.  That's a form of UNIX.  They may be pulling off an Apple-league platform revitalization (i.e. OS9->OSX, PowerPC->Intel) on time for BlackBerry OS 7.

    User Rank: Light Beer
    12/5/2012 | 4:23:38 PM
    re: OS Watch: RIM Regrets & iPhone Instructions

    I hope you're right, Mark, I like my Tour just fine and had been hoping to replace it with a Verizon Torch but now I'm reconsidering.  

    I agree that RIM competes well with the mid-range phones out there today from a processor clock speed perspective, but the Torch is (or at least should have been) configured to be a high-end superphone.  At ~600MHz it falls pretty short of the competition who are all in the 1GHz range. Of course, clock speed has been dead as a good CPU benchmark for ages and it's more true than ever with mobile chipsets, but the browser benchmarks on the Torch, while fantastic compared to the BBOS5 devices, are still lacking compared to the iPhone and Android 2.1 (let alone 2.2) scores.

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