For Tang Thien Hai, founder of Viet Hop Co., Ltd. and community manager of the BlackBerry® developer forums in Vietnam, the hardest part of developing an application is coming up with an idea. Ironically, his most successful idea came when he least expected it. Caro, a Tic-Tac-Toe type game, was developed by Tang to demonstrate to the growing Vietnamese BlackBerry developer community just how fast and easy it can be to build integrated BlackBerry apps. Developed in only one week, Caro has achieved great success, garnering more than two million downloads in less than three months and 60,000 daily users.
Tang sat down with RIM to discuss the advantages of developing for BlackBerry® smartphones, the importance of integrating apps with BBM™ 6, and working with an engaged Vietnamese developer community and users.
When did you start developing for BlackBerry smartphones?
I owned a BlackBerry® 8700 series smartphone a few years ago and there weren’t any applications available that supported trackwheel devices, so I decided to start developing some for myself. I had previous experience developing with the Java® platform, which made it really easy to start creating apps for BlackBerry platform since it was Java based as well. I developed my first consumer-facing application for travelers and I now have a number of different apps, including my Tic-Tac-Toe app, Caro.
Caro has been a very successful application. How easy was it to develop?
The truth is I developed Caro to show the BlackBerry developer community that I manage in Vietnam how BBM 6 works and how it can benefit their applications. I completed the first version of the game in one week but realized only once it was done that I had something people might want. I submitted the app and had it released on BlackBerry App World™ storefront. Within weeks there were over a million downloads.
Why do you think it became popular so quickly?
I believe it’s popular because of how integrated it is with social features, especially BBM 6. BBM is reliable and accommodates hundreds of thousands of players at any given moment. The user can easily see their scores and their opponents’ scores while playing. Users can also access their contacts to send invitations and find out who’s currently available to play. This enables users to share the application quickly and easily and challenge people to play. Every time a player plays the game, their points accumulate on their record making it very competitive for some. They can view their standings online through a ranking system I created on my website. People also share their ranking on Caro’s Twitter® and Facebook® pages. All of this along with the simplicity of the game has made it extremely addictive.
What advice do you pass on to the BlackBerry developer forums that you manage in Vietnam?
Developing for the BlackBerry platform is not only fast and simple because of my previous Java experience; it is practically free of any significant costs, besides your own time of course. Research In Motion Limited (RIM®) provides such a wide variety of free sample code for the developer to use, it’s hard not to find what you need. Once you have an idea, you simply take the sample code, understand it, modify it, and within two or three days you can develop an app. The other advantage is that the BlackBerry developer community has been very helpful in providing feedback on each other’s apps. They are always eager to help you fine- tune your app, or find ways to get your app out to the masses. The community has been extremely beneficial for everyone regardless if you are a new or experienced BlackBerry developer.
Thanks for taking the time to talk to us, Tang!