The fight for mobile app developer's attention continues this week as Blackberry announces a new set of tools for developers to create Blackberry Apps.
The main contenders are Apple's iPhone, Google's Android, Blackberry and as of last week, Apple's new iPad. Apple's iPhone is said to have 75 million devices, a proven platform for distribution and an easy way for customers to pay due to their credit cards being linked to their iTunes account. iPad obviously was just released with potential to be a big hit but it may take some time. First year sales estimates is expected to be only in the 5 - 10 million unit range. Still, developers are racing to get their iPad apps ready to be first in the new iPad store. This is taking resources and focus away from the other platforms at the moment.
Android is set to explode with app distribution through it's Android Market and an avalanche of new Android phones coming on the market from many different handset manufacturers.
Blackberry is the leader in North America for smartphone market penetration and has been the smartphone of choice for the business crowd. If they are to hold their position in North America and have any hope to grow and be a major player internationally, they are going to need to innovate. This weeks announcement of putting new tools in developer's hands is a good start.
The new tools make development easier and also lets Blackberry apps have tighter integration and access to the Blackberry operating system and hardware, allowing for richer and more functional apps. Only time will tell if they can lure developers away from the plethora of other platforms out there.
Here is a comment from their press release and an overview of the four new development tools for creating blackberry apps.
"The BlackBerry Application Platform continues to evolve tremendously and the new tool enhancements make developing applications for BlackBerry smartphones easier and faster than ever," said Alan Brenner, Senior Vice President, BlackBerry Platform at Research In Motion. "We believe these enhanced tools will spur a new level of creativity and innovation as developers find new ways to leverage the unique power and integrated nature of the BlackBerry platform in order to bring useful, intelligent applications to the millions of BlackBerry smartphone users around the world."
BlackBerry Java Plug-In for Eclipse v1.1
- -- Enables Java developers to leverage a familiar open source development environment (Eclipse 3.5) to create, debug, profile and simulate their applications using a wide selection of BlackBerry smartphone simulators, actual devices and multiple versions of the BlackBerry® OS
- -- Improved productivity features include the ability to instantly load and immediately run a modified application being debugged without having to reset the simulator or device, providing tremendous time savings
BlackBerry Web Plug-In v2.0
- -- BlackBerry Web Plug-ins are now available for both Eclipse and Microsoft Visual Studio
- -- New features in the latest 2.0 release include BlackBerry Widget debugging and profiling, support for Eclipse 3.5, and simulator "hot swap" to greatly reduce the time required to test and debug between iterations
BlackBerry Java SDK v5.0
- -- OpenGL ES support for 3D graphics, touch-screen, and accelerometer enables visually stunning interactive 3D games(i)
- -- Rich multimedia audio and video support, Media Play features, camera zoom and focus, and embedded video capture and audio/video streaming support
- -- New pre-built UI components (e.g., spin-box fields, file pickers, and screen transitions) enable advanced graphics and built-in animation and increased developer productivity.
- -- Location Based Services APIs enable cell-site geolocation, GPS, geocoding and reverse geocoding to obtain address and location information
BlackBerry Widget SDK v1.0
- -- Allows third-party applications to access the calendar, contacts, camera, maps, messaging, browser, files, location via cell-tower or GPS, and receive BlackBerry push content via BlackBerry Widget APIs
- -- Includes navigation support for touch-screen handsets and screen transition and image transition support for BlackBerry Widgets startup and shutdown
- -- Location-Based Services and SQLite / Google Gears enabled persistent data storage is also available for BlackBerry Widgets.