It’s not clear whether or not RIM will be hosting a 2012 DevCon this year in San Francisco, as they have done in previous years. The problem is that they’re screwed either way this year. There’s nothing they can really say about BlackBerry 10, as it’s announced and we’ve already seen the demos. There’s nothing to say on the PlayBook side, unless they announce the 4G version. But even at that, it’s nothing that developers would be particularly interested in. RIM could release some updates to the DevAlpha, but that’s hardly something you can wrap a conference around.
So what if they cancelled the event this year? Well first, the media would have a field day with “RIM Cancels Developer Conference With No Developers Attending”. The spin on the story would clearly be that RIM is canceling, not because of a lack of news, but because nobody is interested in the platform. So it seems RIM is doomed either way. But there’s one thing that could really make up for both: a huge hackathon.
If there’s no news to report, what better way to prepare for the January launch of BlackBerry 10 than to have a huge hackathon with prizes. Get as many developers as possible, and have them hack across BlackBerry 10 DevAlpha, PlayBook and OS 5-7. In the end, this would solve two problems for RIM:
1) Perception of developers – If the media is looking to report that devs don’t care about BlackBerry, what better way to prove them wrong than to get out as many devs as possible and have them build products in advance of launch.
2) No news – So a reporter is looking for something to talk about with RIM? Sorry, this conference isn’t about RIM. It’s about the developers. If you’re looking for a story, we suggest you talk to one of the thousand or so devs in attendance that are building what could be the next big thing.
The biggest point here is that it has to be very different from any other hackathon RIM has done. The BBM Hackathon in NYC for example was a decent event but it was small and wasn’t organized properly. It was clear that whatever company was running the event, had never done a hackathon. There needs to be strict rules, guidelines, prizes and a support network to keep the party going.
Who knows, if the hackathon is a big enough success, you might see the next Instagram launch at a BB10 DevCon.
Oh, and if you want to draw crowds, you’re going to need an insanely sweet prize. Might I suggest a QNX Porshe complete with PlayBook and BB10 phone?