Mike Kirkup, as well as being the Director of Developer Relations at Research In Motion, runs the show at the BlackBerry Developer’s Blog, so I couldn’t miss his session, DEV50 “Designing the Optimal BlackBerry Application: Understanding Market Dynamics and Mobile Applic…. Mike outlined important market dynamics for BlackBerry smartphones to a very interested audience. I took the opportunity to sit down with Mike to dig deeper on some key points from his session.
Tons of questions and photos taken during your session today!! What’s your take away from that?
There is pent up demand from our development community to better understand the market dynamics, the opportunities and the risks. I want to enable our developers to make more informed decisions about where to invest in our platform.
What do you think about their specific questions around demographics and regional breakdown?
I think it really speaks to the hunger for information to drive better decisions being made about investing in the BlackBerry platform. As the platform continues to grow we need to be able to share this information with everyone as much as possible.
Talk more about your snowball effect metaphor and the need for developers to focus on OS version and not smartphone version.
The BlackBerry platform is “forwards compatible” in our technical jargon, meaning that if you write your application for OS 4.2.1 it will run on all future handheld software versions after and including 4.2.1. I call this the snowball effect because at each version of the operating system contains all the APIs of previous versions, and we are constantly adding more and more APIs to the platform. (For how the snowball effect is related to the Paradox of Choice – see below.)
What specific information did you want to make sure Developers took away from your session?
Two things, actually. First, a better understanding of how we are responding to the requests of the community for better information to help guide their decisions. Second, I wanted the developers to fully understand their options for how to handle platform fragmentation.
You mentioned the Paradox of Choice – can you elaborate?
Developers want to leverage the latest and greatest APIs. However, they still need to support older versions of in-market software. For example, if you develop for OS 4.2.1 or higher your application can run on 97% of the BlackBerry smartphones in-market today. But that kind of lowest common denominator approach causes challenges for developers because their customers expect more on the latest BlackBerry smartphone. This is the paradox of choice.
The best way to handle the paradox of choice is to aim for the best of both worlds through use of the preprocessor. We’ll be talking about the preprocessor a lot more on the BlackBerry Developer’s Blog, so stay tuned!