In the last few years, the words "apps" and "operating system" have pretty much become household terms that many of us use on a daily basis. As the popularity of smartphones has increased, some confusion has set in for BlackBerry users on both of these fronts. Some have wondered why an OS is available from a certain carrier but not from another (for example, when two people own the same exact phone but are given two different OSes by two different carriers). Along the same lines, with the explosion of iOS and its App Store, and Android and its Market Place there has been some confusion as to why certain apps are available for some OSes but not others. This encompasses a phenomenon I like to call "Blame RIM."
(Part I will be solely focused on apps. Part II will deal with operating systems so stay tuned.)
The confusion could be caused by the fact that some people think that when an app isn't available on a certain platform it's because the smartphone manufacturer doesn't want that app on their OS. After all, if they did, they would just make it right? Wrong.
RIM, Apple and Google don't "make" most of the apps we use.
Apps and games are made by developers who don't have anything to do with a specific platform. They are people like me and you that have decided to make apps and put them on one or multiple of the smartphone storefronts.
Let's take Angry Birds for example. A company named "Rovio" makes that game that was, at first, made only available to iOS. Why? This specific company decided to only concentrate specifically on iOS devices at that time, no other reason. Apple had nothing to do with it. Even though, Android and BlackBerry lovers wanted it, there was nothing anyone could do about it. Eventually they decided to make an Android version of it and later... much later, we got it on our BlackBerry PlayBooks.
Other apps, like Instagram, are still stuck as iOS-only apps. This specific company has only a handful of people working for them and obviously with the huge success it has had, putting people to work on developing this app for another platform, just doesn't seem feasible to them. Android and BlackBerry users would love to get their hands on it but unfortunately, no one knows when, or if we will.
Now, I say "most" as opposed to "all" because there are some exceptions obviously. BlackBerry Messenger, for example, is made by RIM developers which is why no one can just make it for iOS and Android. Apps like these are called "native apps" (think BlackBerry Protect, BlackBerry Traffic, BBM Music; etc).
Chicken or the egg.
When it comes to apps and smartphone ecosystems many will argue opposing views as to what makes a developer want to make their app available for a certain OS. Does the popularity of the OS make it have a lot of apps or is the quantity of apps available for an OS make it popular? No one can answer that for certain but getting apps on your platform will never be a bad thing. That's what RIM is trying to do a better job of - communicating with developers.
RIM is working to get developers on board.
The tweet above is from Alec Saunders, VP of Developer Relations at RIM. As you can see, he's been meeting with developers up and down, left and right, all in efforts to make them see why they should make their apps available to the BlackBerry ecosytem. Saunders and his entire team are working on putting a positive spin on what many have dubbed to be a doomed platform.
Their efforts have reaped some benefits though. Game developers have adopted the PlayBook tremendously well. Companies like EA (Madden), Gameloft (UNO, N.O.V.A), Rovio (Angry Birds), ZeptoLab (Cut The Rope); etc have all jumped on board and seen tremendous success.
So next time you want to find out why a certain app isn't available for BlackBerry, find out who makes it and ask them via email or tweet that way they know BlackBerry is still alive and kicking.