RIM has undergone a lot of changes since their decision to bring BlackBerry 10 to market. The most promising of which, is their new approach to launching handsets by placing a greater focus on developer support and offering a more unified hardware philosophy.
A problem that crept up on RIM in their attempt to innovate the legacy BlackBerry OS is the amount of device fragmentation the platform started experiencing. Since BlackBerry launched color screens, they’ve produced dozens of screen sizes, resolutions and aspect ratios. Compounding the conundrum are the hundreds of carrier partners that all demand individual attention for each and every supported device.
RIM has tried all sorts of different permutations of screen size and aspect ratios in an attempt to offer a diverse lineup of phones. Every time a new BlackBerry device gets released, the BlackBerry developers would take a long time to port their apps and games. This is mostly because porting apps for a device launch isn’t a very efficient use of developer time considering that over 99 percent of your potential user base don’t have the latest device yet.
A great example of this is the infamous BlackBerry Style that had a clamshell design, mini-external screen and irregular-sized main display screen. Many developers had good enough sense to ignore support for this model altogether. Come launch week for a new OS6 or OS 7 BlackBerry, the early adopters end up suffering because their apps aren’t available yet and developers miss out on the bulk of app purchases that a user typically makes are within the first two months ownership. Other devices that suffered a slow start were the BlackBerry Storm and both the Torch 9800 and 9810 models.
In the past, RIM has launched new smartphones and mobile OSes with a good showing of 1st party apps. For various reasons apps from 3rd party developers habitually missed launch week, with many developers waiting as long as several months to consider a laborious java port. Thanks to a solid OS transition plan that takes a clever tablet-first approach to build up an app ecosystem years before the new BlackBerry smartphones even hit shelves.
What gives me the most hope for the BlackBerry 10 launch is that RIM fully understands that apps are the main thing that drive smartphone sales. This new methodology will lead to many more apps ready for BlackBerry 10 launch week than any other BlackBerry OS or device launch in history.