The expectation surrounding the release of Blackberry 10 was heightened this week with the announcement by Research in Motion of a launch event at the end of January next year.
So far, it’s fair to say, the company itself has been highly positive that its product will put it back on the mobile map, once again fighting alongside rival mobile developers Apple, Microsoft and Samsung. Early word so far has been somewhat mixed, something that RIM will aim to rectify in the coming months heading up to the expected launch date of 30 January.
According to figures supplied by RIM, there are 60 million active users of Blackberry Messenger, with 103,000 apps currently on sale (a figure it says that is double the count from last year.)
Blackberry App World is said to have 80 million active customers, which has grown by 2 million in the last three months.
One of the major facets that the product will certainly rely upon, will be its ability to deliver as an entertainment tool, no less within the gaming sector. Volker Hirsch, director of business development gaming at RIM says that app developers however, have found the platforms “by far the easiest” to create for.
According to RIM, over 50 carriers globally are currently testing the Blackberry 10 platform, with over 5,000 Dev Alpha B handsets have been seeded to developers at this time.
“The simplicity for developers to use is a very important one for a new platform. The fact that it’s Dot-plus actually makes it very powerful outright. Probably the majority of games are being written on Dot-plus. The fact that we provide them with the tools that they are used to, they are completely in tune with the programme and language, which they work with anyway,” explains Hirsch.
“What is equally important is the power tab, because it does allow games to shine and then there is the economics behind it. There are quite a few analysts that place Blackberry App World as being more profitable than Google Play. That’s before we’ve even started to install our shiny new hardware. The time it takes to make back the money that you invested in the platform is half of what it takes on iOS. So all of those metrics is something which is scoring high because discoverability and making money are increasingly painful areas for more games developers on computing platforms.”
Of the “shiny new hardware”, Hirsch promises Blackberry 10 will be accompanied by both a “shiny new operating system” that will host a range of “shiny new games,” upon launch.
“We’re happy to report that we have most of the major players there and we think that we have a pretty complete set of the must-have games that are ready to launch,” states Hirsh proudly. “What we’re doing in order to get there is to build a platform that is very easy for developers to use, which of course is important, when you’re building a new software platform it’s very hard for people to address it and get it going.”
He continues: “When you look at the tooling engine that we have provided to support the platform, we have made it easier and cheaper for developers to address it. If it’s Angry Birds Space or Jetpack Joyrides or whatever you want to pick, they will bring their top games over. One example; there is a big 3D sci-fi shooter, Galaxy on Fire 2 HD, probably one of the biggest titles on iOS. They ported it over in a day to our platform in a day where it runs, arguably faster. That’s an example of the work that we have been doing and we can add to that some tools that aid discoverability and interaction in general.”
Those “shiny new games”, he explains, will be powered by social gaming platform Scoreloop, which will allow users to create a community of their friends to share experiences, leader boards and challenges.
Hirsch add that, as before, the phone will aim to deliver to the Enterprise sector through its range of features, alongside a strong gaming offer.
“We already have over 3,000 apps of which games are the most important category, including all of the best selling games. The fact that the moneytisation on Blackberry is something that always gives you a lot of attention, this is where some of our competitors are seriously struggling.”
Asked if there are games he expects will become a hit on the Blackberry 10, Hirsch explains that he believes the times when a game might be popular on one handset over others is now past. “I would be quite surprised that people would enjoy playing on Blackberry more than any other platform. What I’m concerned about is providing great quality games, then I can do without any rubbish knock offs. If you look at the ones that are floating to the top, they tend to be good things and I want to make sure that we continue to see the great content and make sure they are coming through out platforms.”
Concluding the discussion, Hirsch once again returns to highlight the feedback he has received from developers who have been working on the platform, with early handsets handed out in the middle of this year to allow them to get to work.
“When we started speaking to games developers a lot of them were impressed that Blackberry could enable games. I have not had a single one come back to me after they have had a look at our hardware and after they have had a play around with our social development kit that were not complimentary. From unanimous feedback it has been described as ‘great, clean, powerful tools, great hardware’ and ‘fantastic awareness’. Otherwise we could not have achieved the number of games live today on Playbook already in this marketplace. That is testament to the power of the platform that can only increase once we release the new Blackberry to reinforce that.”