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RIM says it has the apps it needs for successful BlackBerry 10 launch

RIM says it has the apps it needs for successful BlackBerry 10 launch

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But is it right?

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Gallery Photo: Facebook for BlackBerry 10 photos
Gallery Photo: Facebook for BlackBerry 10 photos

Three weeks.

That's how long until RIM officially launches its new BlackBerry 10 phones. One year ago, I explained why RIM had a long road to getting developers enthused enough to create apps for the new platform. The company has spent that year going down it, honing its developer message, offering $10,000 guarantees, posting insane videos to rally the troops, and launching zero BlackBerry 10 devices.

This year, as I sat down with RIM yet again to discuss the state of its app situation, my number one question was simple: does RIM have the apps it needs to have a successful launch? RIM's VP of Global Alliances and Business Development, Martyn Mallick, answered with conviction:

"Yes."

RIM's VP of Developer Relations, Alec Saunders, added that the company had achieved its goals both in total numbers and in landing the most important, top apps people want. Saunders said that December's announcement of the launch date "changed the flavor of the conversation [with potential developers] dramatically," leading to an uptick in apps.

"If there's an obstacle in the way, we try to remove it."

Mallick said that RIM is directly reaching out to a vast array of developers in multiple categories and widespread regions with the goal of getting their apps on BB10. "If there's an obstacle in the way, we try to remove it," he told me, "Whether that's technical, so be it. If that's business, so be it." Saunders was just as direct: "Nobody treats developers better than RIM does right now."

It shouldn't surprise anyone that RIM is willing to remove "business obstacles" (a veiled reference to RIM's cash guarantee), because the platform will be dead-in-the-water if it can't get both big-name apps and a robust independent developer community going for BB10.

The lead-up to any launching any product usually involves a complicated game of managing expectations. So hearing RIM's blunt answer about whether it had the apps it needed was surprising. I would have expected RIM to try to subtly lower expectations so that it could beat them with even modest app support. Instead, Mallick claims that RIM had set goals for itself for the launch and that the company has "exceeded even our most optimistic metrics."

"At the end of the day, you're not going to have every app."

It wasn't all bluster. "At the end of the day," Mallick said, "you're not going to have every app." Saunders added a hint that it's likely that some big name apps will likely be missing, "Even if a particular app isn't there that the user would want, there will be other credible substitutes."

On the bright side, RIM isn't (yet) enmeshed in an ecosystem war like we're seeing between Microsoft and Google. BlackBerry 10 will support CalDAV and CardDAV for syncing Google contacts and calendar. It also has a very fast WebKit-based browser, which should help ensure it won't be locked out of the increasingly webkit-optimized mobile web.

Since RIM began its push to bring developers into the BlackBerry 10 fold, I feel like I'm now writing the same story for the third time: can it get the apps?

RIM can't afford to have me write this report again. Soon, we'll get our first indications of how likely that will be.

In three weeks, to be exact.

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