In October BlackBerry maker Research In Motion opened its first developer center in Slough, England. Back in September, the company said it would set up Blackberry Tech Centers around the world to help programmers looking to create or port apps for BlackBerry 10.
The center is open during normal working hours five days a week, and has an onsite team of helpers to give advice to developers. There is a different theme for each day: Android, iOS and Windows efforts get the most attention, with dedicated help available on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, while Mondays are for Native/Cascades/QT, and Wednesdays for WebWorks and HTML5.
RIM’s VP of Developer Relations, Alec Saunders believes that the establishment of the tech centers will help set RIM on the right track once again with consumers. It’s an initiative to actively interact with and provide support to a company’s developers. It will provide the chance for them to not only access resources and inputs but also the valuable advice of BlackBerry’s in-house developers so that they can create useful apps for BlackBerry 10. If all goes as planned the tech center will become a platform for developers from varied backgrounds to share ideas and work together.
Saunders also wants to have a look at various apps that would be developed by the UK coders in the coming months.
RIM is looking to accomplish two major things with the new advice center.
First, they want to make it easier for you to find the right resources. The resource center enables you to search by topic — regardless of the available resource format. Whatever you search for, you will find the relevant video, tutorial, knowledge based article, sample code and community support forum discussion. These format types are all now available in a consistent article template.
Second, they want to build the best set of resources for BlackBerry development, relying upon the community’s help. What this means is that the resource center allows you not only to comment on helpful resources, but you are also able to crate and submit your own content for publishing. This can be done by leveraging existing support forum posts to create an article, embedding a video, or writing a new article from scratch. Once the article is reviewed for technical accuracy, it will be published.
BlackBerry 10, expected to debut in early 2013, is generally considered to be a make-or-break release for RIM, which has watched BlackBerry lose ground to mobile rivals and deliver shaky quarterly results. A good line-up of apps is deemed key to attracting buyers to BlackBerry handsets, and the company is putting all it’s got into its outreach to developers, including sending out more than 5000 BlackBerry 10 Dev Alpha handsets to test their apps on.
All of this indicates that RIM is trying to remake itself by becoming more accessible to the public. They are actually inviting the community to participate in creating the content of these advice centers. This is based on the theory that if the public is more involved in the technical aspect of the BlackBerry 10 they will be more inclined to purchase one or more.
RIM has plans to open more developer tech centers in Silicon Valley, Vancouver and Indonesia, among other locations. Whether or not these various investment measures by RIM will prove to be helpful remains to be seen, and there’s a lot riding on the success or failure of the BlackBerry 10 once it is released and it’s performance against its competitors can be evaluated, but it can’t hurt.