BlackBerry Alliance Program An Insult To Developers

RIM rolled out their new Alliance Partnership program this week and it’s just another sign, to me anyway, that RIM is missing the boat. Before I could write my own blog post, though, Ronen Halevy over at wrote everything I was thinking (here and here).

Here it is in short: RIM’s historical focus on enterprises has caused short-sightedness on the part of consumer efforts (and by consumers I’m referring to everyone not in Fortune 2000 companies and government). Instead of developing the software to cater to consumers, it seems, they completely defer any consumer relationship to the carriers and hope for the best. The examples are everywhere:

  • Why do OS updates come from the carrier instead of RIM, and why do we have to go find them rather than those updates being pushed to us?
  • Why isn’t BlackBerry’s App World pre-installed on devices and why doesn’t this service work over wifi on the devices that support it?
  • Why do enterprises get RIM’s impressive BES software for syncing with mail, contacts and calendars but consumers get the poorly created and implemented BIS implementation which doesn’t even support push email?

And now we have the new Alliance Program, as if the old one wasn’t bad enough. The old program was pay $2,000 per year to get pre-release software, a couple of devices, a cheap BES system, and access to the BIS-B wireless sync protocols. It also included tech support with your own technical guru.

For two grand, I thought we would get marketing, too, but every time RIM had a chance to help us out, they passed on the opportunity.

Now comes the new program. For the price of $2,000 plus thousands more to buy 45 participation points, we get the same benefits we had before. So the price is higher and we have to jump through more hoops than writing a check. We get points by getting people to buy BlackBerry’s, sending company reps to RIM’s dev conferences, and writing case studies.

Personally, I’m insulted. This program isn’t about us, the developer and what we can bring to RIM and how RIM can help us be more successful. It’s about what RIM can get out of us. Instead of rolling out a program that gives us better placement on the web site, elevates our standing in the App World Store, and helps us promote to the vertical markets that buy our software, we get no additional benefit for more cost.

To me, it’s just another shining example of how focused on enterprise RIM really is. The $2,000 badge of honor from RIM and access to technical support means something to enterprise developers. For consumer markets, it’s no help.

I really hope RIM gets their act together. They really have developed amazing devices for those who care more about communication than infotainment. And given their dominance in enterprises and government, they have a great opportunity to win the prosumer markets that a product like FastFigures is focused on.

3 thoughts on “BlackBerry Alliance Program An Insult To Developers

  1. Elia, very interesting summary. Underlying your negative experience with RIM is their priority, of course, to follow the money from the enterprise world and fortune 2000. I would guess they will make some of the adjustments you are talking about once the Apple model pushes farther into the RIM enterprise domination via iPhone use amongst corporate users. This IS going to happen because the iPhone is being pushed by consumers back at the corporate gatekeepers as a better solution ( Not to mention a much more friendly developer model).

  2. The irony is I’m not convinced RIM is doing this on purpose. I don’t think it’s arrogance at all. I think they aren’t asking the smaller, consumer-oriented developers, “How can we help you?” and instead are assuming that the our needs are the exact same as their bigger, enterprise-oriented developers.

  3. Although it’s constantly being refined, the Blackberry operating system is and always has been inferior to its counterparts.  The only reason it has grown is because it allows enterprise users to control the employees data. 

    Frequently Blackberry users carry two PDAs, one for company business and one for privacy.  For me, that encapsulates the web OS issue.  I do not want anyone to have the power to invade my privacy so easily.  

    I also find web OS tremendously limiting.  I’ve used PowerOne Finance for years.  For me, it’s by far the best portable financial calculator on the planet.  When Fast Figures was offered for my iPod touch (I woud never imprison myself with an iPhone), I bought it without looking closely at how it functions.

    You cannot imagine my disappointment when I discovered that I could not create and store my worksheets locally.  Because of that, I only use it occasionally for basic calculations.

    Recently we “upgraded” my wife’s Treo 700p to a Palm Pre.  It was not an upgrade.  A week later we returned it for a Palm Pro (which I also carry).  Neither of us found the Web OS particularly user friendly or flexible.

    I still keep my old Palm Tungstun close at hand, primarily for PowerOne.  For me, Palm dropping Palm OS is similar to the Beta vs VHS story: a example of the proliferation of the inferior system.

    We now have three unattractive choices:  RIMM with limited function and invasion of privacy, Web OS with invasion of privacy and no functionality if a signal is unavailable, or slow clumsy Windows mobile.

    As far as I’m concerned the future of PDA functionality and reliability looks pretty bleak for consumers.    


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