How it all began…

image ‘young ekke’: (c) 2012 ekke (from my mother’s photo album

As many of you may know I’m developing software for more then 30 years now and just for over two years mobile business applications for BlackBerry in Java and also just starting C++ / Qt / Cascades.

Sometimes people ask me why just BlackBerry? It was a result of customer requirements:

  • Only using BlackBerry Push Services it could be guaranteed that orders actually were delivered onto mobile device of a truck driver with feedback to the sender (server). This was not feasible with Google,
    Apple or Microsoft Push Services.
  • The second point was the Blackberry Keyboard: truck drivers are working in dirty environments, where it can be difficult to use touch screens.
  • The third point: the control of devices through the BlackBerry Enterprise Server – especially as the BES Express can be downloaded for free and is massive enough for medium-sized businesses.

So much for history, why I started mobile developing for BlackBerry, and not  Android or iOS.
Over the last few years I learned that it’s easy to develop really cool software for Blackberry (so-called super apps) where you don’t have to be afraid from comparison with iOS or Android Apps.

As an experienced Java developer it wasn’t too difficult to start with BlackBerry Java APP’s – after some months working on it I could present some of my apps at BBDevCon conference 2010 and this was the starting point to get in contact with Developer Relations team.

Some more work was it to learn about all the BlackBerry Platform services and I got a first idea what’s really different to other mobile platforms.

Farewell Java ME

image: dreamstime.com (click to see the source)

So far so good – but the BlackBerry Java environment is based on the old Java ME, extended by RIM to support all the new things like Accelerator, Location Based Services …

As a Java (Desktop / Server) developer you’re missing all the nice things such as collections, generics, etc. So it was clear that RIM had to change something – but they not only changed something – they changed the complete story.

  • April 2010: the acquisition of QNX, which is the basis of the new OS
  • last two years the acquisition of many other companies, such as DataViz, Ubitexx, The Astonishing Tribe (TAT) from Sweden and more.
  • Last Acquisition was Paratek (April 2012)

Before I report on the conference from Orlando, I’ll go back again to the BBDevCon (BlackBerry Developer Conference) San Francisco in October 2011. There, it was announced that the new operating system no longer
includes a Java VM, but is based on QNX and Cascades as their new UI Framework. Cascades is made by the Swedish company TAT and uses QtCore as framework. UI can be described declaratively by QML or directly from C++ code, or mixed.

For me and many other Java developers this was a shock: no Java VM anymore. As a small consolation prize the Android player allows you to run Android 2.3.x applications on the playbook. This works quite well, as can be seen since its release in February this year with the Playbook OS 2. Thousands of Android apps have already been ported to PlayBook OS.

For Web developers, the story is even better because you can build HTML5 applications with WebWorks – both on the playbook OS as well as on older systems like BlackBerry 6 or 7.

In addition, there’s a SDK for Adobe Air, and various game engines.

But the dilemma remains for Java developers: If you want to build sophisticated applications with access to all the platform services there is no Java – way to go.

As you see, I’m still developing for BlackBerry and I know that there will be some cool BB 10 Apps by me next years. So I found a way to survive as a Java developer.

To understand the whole story, let’s take a look back and forth and see how RIM changed.

The „old“ RIM

image: (c) 2012 ekke

In recent years RIM has made all the mistakes you could possibly imagine:

  • too late recognized what the market entry of the iPhone means
  • touch disaster: the first smartphone with a touch screen (Storm) could not compete with the convenience of the iPhone
  • no apps: the Playbook (RIM’s first tablet) was delivered with much too less apps and no native app’s like e-mail, contacts, etc

Thus, the former pioneer who has set a milestone with push-email in the history of mobile devices, starts a slow tailspin, without even noticing it at first.
Creativity was blocked by legal department, bureaucracy stops engagement, barriers for developers to start etc.

This is not your father’s RIM

image ‘reborn’ from dreamstime.com (click to see the source)

Beginning in 2010 (including the acquisition of QNX and The Astonishing Tribe TAT) to February 2012 (Playbook 2.0 with native clients and Android player) until now (BB10 Jam Conference with a first Beta of BB10 SDK) is a process in motion been set, which includes the opportunity for RIM, again to advance to the tip. Some might smile about it in the light of analyst reports – I’m already a little longer in the market and have experienced the same thing in the 80s with Apple.

This detailed report is intended to help you with your own conclusion.

I’m Independent

I’ll try to describe everything as open as possible from my very own perspective as an independent software architect – not payed by RIM – only by my customers 😉

I’m not blindly following RIM and open for all mobile platforms to find the best solutions for my customer – requirements.

I’m using an iPhone as my main personal daily device together with a Bold 9900 and a Galaxy Nexus, my wife is using an iPad, the Kids love their PlayBooks for gaming and also their Android HTC Desire SmartPhones. So I know about UX on other Devices from daily use.

I know about other SDK’s, too: for customers I’m developing cross-platform-projects for Android 4 and BlackBerry 7. There’s a series about mobile development with Eclipse where I’m comparing side-by-side Android 4 and BB10 / Cascades at (german) Eclipse Magazin and much more. I’m also evaluating, testing and comparing platform services like Push Service SDK’s from Apple, Microsoft, Google and RIM.

I can only survive if I’m developing APP’s my customers like and I’m sure they’ll also like my upcoming BB10 APPs.

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  1. Intro
  2. Death Spiral’. Why developing BB, Who on Earth…
  3. How it all began, Farewell Java ME, the ‘old’ RIM vs. ‘not your fathers’ RIM, I’m independent
  4. BB10 is a Platform, Cascades more then a UI Framework
  5. Thorsten Heins: the hard Way to BB10, BlackBerry 7 is alive
  6. Alec + Chris rockin’ …, BB10Jam Conference, Creating intelligent Apps
  7. Connected Apps with Cascades, Anatomy of a BB10 App
  8. Native Camera API, NFC Apps
  9. Location-Based-Services
  10. Flow + Invokation Framework
  11. Party, SDK, AlphaDevice, Keyboard, Magic Moments
  12. Markets: Consumer, Enterprise, Government, Automobile
  13. BB10 around the World, Apps Apps Apps…, Open Source
  14. Mission RIM possible ?, Empower People like never before ?, Three Wishes

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