Mippin is a multi-faceted development company that specializes not only in developing award-winning applications, but also in building app creation platforms to major handset manufacturers and mobile operators. The London, UK based company has developed apps for a wide variety of content producers, from news to technology, finance to fashion. For each of its 20 popular BlackBerry apps, Mippin has built three customized templates, each taking advantage of the unique strengths of BlackBerry smartphone's different operating systems.
- Portfolio of 20 apps, all optimized for each BlackBerry® smartphone OS and the BlackBerry® PlayBook™ tablet
- All apps built using WebWorks Development Platform
- Daily Express UK was 2011 Winner, Most Innovative BlackBerry® WebWorks™ Application (Europe, Africa, and Middle East)
- Daily Star application: 1550% increase in downloads in first two weeks after its upgrade using BlackBerry WebWorks
- Terrific support from Research In Motion (RIM)
Nick Barnett, Mippin’s CEO, tells RIM about their App Factory project, the benefits of developing for BlackBerry OS 7 and the popularity of the company’s WebWorks-developed apps.
Nick: We work closely with different platforms to give them a set of tools that will encourage content developers and publishers to build apps for them. We've built a series of device templates for BlackBerry smartphones based on each operating system, from OS 5 to OS 7 and also the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet. Once we have an individual app working on the BlackBerry platform, we can strip out the branding, colours, and content and we're left with a wireframe app.
The wireframe contains all of the underlying UI features and interactions a user would have with the app, so all we need to do is contact the content owners and insert their content to recreate a new application.
Q: Why did you decide to upgrade your applications using the WebWorks Development Platform?
Nick: For the first three years we were building our BlackBerry apps using Java®. However, we wanted to build for the future so basically re-built the apps in HTML5 and packaged those using WebWorks. In the process we made them a far more native experience and the results were impressive, in both UE and download numbers.
Q: What improvements has OS 7 offered you, in terms of development time and features?
Nick: In general, OS 7 is more stable and much faster than any previous operating system and improves on OS 6 in a number of ways. For example, the ability to debug the device by connecting wirelessly and changing the Document Object Model (DOM) in real time was very helpful and improved the development time.
There were also fixes to a couple of small memory issues that we had been experiencing. In terms of new features, not only is there improved social media sharing capabilities and support for background updates, but we also love being able to integrate with the BlackBerry® Messenger (BBM™) platform to make our WebWorks apps more viral.
Q: What sort of a response have you had on the BlackBerry App World™ storefront?
Nick: When we upgraded our applications using our WebWorks-based templates, the download improvements were staggering. One example is our OK! Magazine app. The app received 52,000 downloads in the first two weeks on BlackBerry App World. That’s an average of 26 thousand downloads a week, which again is huge for us. For the same app on iPhone® over those weeks, we had approximately 10 to 15 thousand downloads per week. That’s nearly twice the weekly downloads on that app through BlackBerry App World than we’re seeing on iTunes®, which is pleasantly surprising.
The results were similar for our entire portfolio of apps over the first couple of weeks following the upgrade.
Q: How did the RIM development team support you through this process?
Nick: Any issues we have had with the Web development environment are quickly addressed and with the help of the development team we were able to identify a number of workarounds and improve the overall experience of the apps. We do a lot of work with other platforms, but we have found the communication hasn’t been as clear as what we’ve experienced with RIM.