Theme Builder Update Needed for BlackBerry Pearl 9100 and Beyond

13 Comments

The BlackBerry Pearl 3G aka 9100/9105, has been announced on major carriers such as Rogers and TELUS as well as it should be arriving on T-Mobile and WIND. The device hasn’t hit actual stores yet but there are some floating around in the wild, and it’s expected that the device will hit stores any day now. The problem, is that the team responsible for updating theme builder haven’t yet released a patch or new version, allowing theme designers to make 9100 themes, and therefore there may not be any themes available for the Pearl 3G when it hits stores.

In the past, there have been leaked versions of Theme Builder that have allowed theme developers to get an unofficial heads up and allowed them to have themes ready as soon as a new device hits stores. We haven’t seen any leaked copies of the updated theme builder or patch, which we would have been happy to share with theme developers in this post. Even if the blogosphere were able to provide a leaked copy of Theme Builder that supports 91XX devices, it’s an almost certainty that those themes would not be approved by App World. Going through the BlackBerryCool Store, there is a long list of themes available for the 9100 but I’m dubious that they actually work. I think this is a mistake in the system or a mislabeling issue on the part of theme developers.

When will the updated Theme Builder or patch launch? We’re not sure. A question on the official support forums asking “Will there be a new theme builder or upgrade package?” from May 11th remains unanswered and RIM hasn’t mentioned anything about it officially.

Another solution for getting 9100 themes to market involves hacking a JAD file. I know some theme developers have done this in the past, but I’m not even sure if it’s possible with the 9100. The Pearl 3G has a screen resolution of 360×400, which is unique in the BlackBerry product line. Either way, I haven’t seen any 9100 themes on the market yet.

As of May 31st, there are 1760 themes in App Word. There are around 4,000 apps in App World, not including games and themes, and over 5,000 including not including themes. Therefore, themes represent around 35% of App World content. When RIM announced that the BlackBerry Pearl 3G came preloaded with App World, they should have also included a footnote that says *with 35% less content than other BlackBerry devices.

From a marketing, sales and end user experience, the fact that the App World team is not synced with the Theme Builder team is a major content issue at RIM. It’s also a managerial problem that needs to be fixed if this incremental device launch strategy is to continue. Early adopters need access to themes and App World’s success is impeded by these obvious mistakes.

To fix the situation, I propose a BlackBerry Theme Developers Alliance Program. There are only a handful of companies in the theme building industry that are making premium themes and selling them on App World. Other than these companies, App World is generally plagued with thousands of “kids in their basement” hacking a theme together with limited graphic design skills. By creating an Alliance Program for premium theme developers, RIM could take the top companies submitting to App World, and provide them the following:

  • Advanced “beta” copies of Theme Builder
  • Troubleshooting help
  • Members only forums
  • Marketing support and co-branding (same as for apps but with themes as well)
  • The ability to sell themes for devices that aren’t supported in the public version of Theme Builder

By implementing this sort of solution, anyone purchasing a new device can be guaranteed they’ll have themes available out-of-the-box. This will make for happy users and more sales for RIM in the end.

  • MMMOOO

    oh…it's me…So sad that no one reply to me…LOL

  • DavidB

    Not sure where you're getting your info, but it's incorrect. Check around the forums at such sites as Crackberry and you'll clearly see that theme builder almost ALWAYS lags device release. True for 82xx, 89xx, 95xx, 96xx, all those models were launched before themes could be built. And you're complaining about a device that hasn't even been released yet???

  • http://www.blackberrycool.com/ Kyle McInnes

    Exactly, that's my point. The Theme Builder shouldn't lag behind device releases. It kills the content market for the launch day. It should be ahead so that theme designers have time to make themes for the day of the device launch. It takes a long time to make a good theme. Especially if you're customizing from the ground up. And when themes make up 35% or so of App World content, it's just bad business.

  • http://appworld.blackberry.com/webstore/vendor/1111 Eric at Ebscer

    The tools should really be launched whenever the product is announced. It is a safe bet that RIM has had most of them internally for a while by then.

    The 9800 is a brand new form factor with a brand new OS. If the tools do not launch for it well ahead of time, that phone will launch with absolutely nothing available for it.

  • DavidB

    You're missing my point Kyle. I'm not arguing that Theme Builder doesn't need to be available prior to device launch. That would be great if it was. But the fact is Theme Builder has lagged EVERY new screen format in recent memory, but your write-up implies that wasn't the case and it's just something new to the 91xx.

  • DavidB

    9800 is going to open up a whole new can of worms. Much more than themes, just the fact there will be three different input methods now (where previous devices only ever had two) is going to make for some serious challenges for developers. One would hope that RIM would put out some seed units to major developers, but I don't see that happening as no doubt they would be fodder for leaks to every BlackBerry site around. RIM has NEVER been able to control their device launches the way Apple has, one of the few policies of Apple I actually admire. They somehow get major apps available at device launch with only minimal information leaking (a drunk engineer in a bar doesn't count).

  • http://blackberrycool.com/ Matt Cameron

    It's too bad. If I just got a colorful and stylish new 9100, I would certainly deck it out with a stylized case and a matching theme.

    Most users buy themes, software and games for new devices. I hope they fix this soon, It's always sad when early adopters get shafted.

  • Mark

    Got my new pearl this afternoon. Got to say I'm a little disappointed that I can't set up a good old L theme on this. But overall it's a major upgrade from my 8130! Loving it.

  • http://www.blackberrycool.com/ Kyle McInnes

    Okay I see what you're saying. It definitely isn't something new to the 91xx…If anything the article should just highlight a problem that should be corrected internally, rather than just maintaining the status quo.

  • http://www.shopster.com build online store

    I am not really amazed with BB, for me it is not wise buy.

  • http://www.localtraders.com/lichfield-WS-tradesmen/ Leonard Field

    Is the Pearl the same model as the 8520? After having a blackberry for years, I had to return my model three times – think I’ll be converting to the Iphone!

  • http://www.autorepaircentre.com/ autorepaircentre.com

    I found the BB to be disappointing!

  • Anonymous

    Blackberry is a business application mobile phone. Only in the construction industry subject theme of the few companies selling the world’s premium and application.

    Speeding Offences