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Summary:

A survey of mobile application developers shows falling confidence in the future of BlackBerry devices. Aside from waning support for RIM’s mobile platform, recently announced to be a late delivery, nearly a third of BlackBerry programmers are shifting to Google Android efforts.

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A survey of mobile application developers shows falling confidence in the future of BlackBerry devices. Baird Equity Research supplied the survey, which focused on all mobile platforms, with AllThingsD sharing some of the data. The results don’t bode well for Research In Motion as its future platform is delayed at a time the company is already far behind its peers.

In the second quarter of 2012, Baird asked developers to rate the following on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest: How do you view the long-term outlook for the following platforms? This same question was asked in the first quarter of last year and the first quarter of this year, with the most recent scores also included. Here’s what the scores look like:

Even with my bad eyesight, it’s clear that developer interest in both BlackBerry and BlackBerry 10 — in addition to Windows Phone — is waning significantly. And without developers to make apps for a platform these days, it’s practically a given that the platform won’t see major success with consumers; no matter how good the platform may be. These days, people are investing in platforms, not products, so without a full-featured app ecosystem, demand will suffer.

Which platform are these BlackBerry developers turning to? Android appears to be the big “winner” here, likely due to RIM’s support for Android apps in BlackBerry 10.

The survey data shows that 31 percent of BlackBerry developers have shifted some or all of their efforts toward Android; a smart move because the apps they develop will potentially work on both platforms. But what does that say when nearly a third of BlackBerry developers have abandoned native apps for RIM’s platform?

It tells me that these programmers are turning an Android backup plan into their future primary strategy: If the Android apps run on BlackBerry devices and RIM somehow manages a turnaround, great, but if not, there are a few hundred million Android devices to make money on.

  1. They need to make a phone that’s completely voice operated, don’t get the screen dirty with fingertips and have a sensor layer for when they play games. This will be the next phone.

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  2. BlackBerry has over 78 million subscribers and gaining more every quarter. So maybe developers are not seeing this. RIM has to deliver BlackBerry 10 this time and challenge the dominance of Apple and Android.

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    1. Harry, that’s correct: RIM has 78 million subscribers as of last month. But I don’t think developers are missing that; they’re looking deeper. As of September of last year, RIM had 70 million subs. That’s about 10 percent growth in 10 months: Not at all stellar when compared to the growth rates of iOS and Android, for example. And when you look at Android, in particular, you see one million new devices activated (a loose similarity to “Google subscribers”) per day. RIM’s 78m subscribers in that light aren’t very promising, IMO.

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      1. That’s true kevin. But this growth is based on BlackBerry 7 devices weren’t as promising as BlackBerry 10. On Android activations, I agree it is growing rapidly. But one question, How much is Android making for Google since its launch. Haven’t seen any reports on revenue from the OS. If samsung & other partners decided to leave Android, things can change rapidly.

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    2. As a mobile user experience designer focused on mobile e-commerce, which platforms comprise these 78 million devices? What technologies do these support. I see numbers where a third of the mobile customer base is 33%, but the traffic is less than 5%. That is simply my personal experience in one large company.

      Designing for mobile requires an understanding of the development process and how the technologies are managed across device capabilities. I have recommended for several years to avoid BB efforts. One company agreed. One did not. The use case is negligible however.

      When asked about why I would not design a mobile experience for BB, I generally ask the BB user to open a site on their device. The conversation usually stops.

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  3. Kevin, You should indicate only 200 individuals out of a minimum 4300 were polled. You would probably not take that to the bank as gospel truth. That said, I agree there is certainly some anxiety out there.

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    1. Totally fair point; thanks for mentioning it. Even with a relatively low number of survey participants though, the sentiment is pretty consistent with what we’ve seen from other similar surveys. RIM keeps suggesting that their platform is the most profitable on a per-app basis, but I suspect that’s because of the limited number of developers fighting for those app dollars.

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      1. There is nothing to suspect in that as RIM explicitly mentions that and infact, that is a selling point for BB10 platform. Less developers so more money. The other things is that surveys are not always representational for the large population – even though thats how they need to be designed. Rather than point to that news artcile, its better to analyze using that as an input along with many other inputs.

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  4. Hm, with Android and iphone leading in the markets Blackberry has been in trouble for quite awhile now. Going to get worst for them unfortunately with the ever increasing popularity of Galaxy S3 and iphone

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