With big smartphone marketshare, developers should be falling over themselves trying to get apps out for Blackberries, yet if you talk to mobile developers they despise RIM with a special hatred usually reserved for management.  Why is that?

Market Share
According to Nielson as recently as June 2010 RIM had 35% of the US smartphone marketshare.

However that same article reported only 47% of BlackBerry users want another Blackberry while 80% of iPhone users wanted their next phone to be iPhone, and likewise 70% of Android users wanted another Android.

Development Tools
Developers like to choose their own tools, yet if you develop for RIM you must use Eclipse under Windows.  Now Apple does require you to use a Macintosh to develop for the iPhone,  so this does not appear to be too strong an imposition.  BTW: Android gives developers the most choices with the ability to develop under Mac OS X, Windows or Linux.

The complaints from developers are that the RIM tools are buggy.  Builds can hang for unpredictably long times on “Analyzing sources” with the CPU meter pegged.   Requests to RIM servers to code sign your app can be slow or fail entirely.  The maximum size of a BlackBerry app is only 8 megabytes of code and 8 megabytes of resources.  Hot code swapping is not supported across all simulator environments.

These tools issues lead one RIM developer to tweet on Twitter:

Burn in hell RIM and BlackBerry. You have the worst toolchain in the world. I want the last 4 hours back.

Costs
RIM charges $20 for an app submission which you have to buy in blocks of 10.  If you update an existing app, that also costs you $20.  Apple is a flat $99 per year and Google is a flat $25 per year.

Devices
Developers have complaints about the RIM devices as well and how hard they are to support.  The stock browser on RIM devices is considered really awful, although the Torch WebKit browser is thought to be a big improvement.  Developers have to target the older  OS 4.5 level of functionality due to the large installed base of those devices and that tends to rule out the newer WebKit.

Conclusion
RIM is falling behind iPhone and Android in marketshare, but it has a large installed base of users, especially corporate users.  Does RIM have “insurmountable technical debt” that precludes developers from making great apps?  I don’t think so, but RIM is proving out that if the developer experience is too painful, the user experience will be lacking and their loss of leadership in smartphone marketshare proves it.

3 Responses to “Why do developers HATE RIM?”

  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by John Roberts, John Roberts. John Roberts said: Why do developers HATE RIM? A new blog post at http://www.pdxmobile.com/?p=13 #rim #blackberry [...]

  2. [...] Hang around mobile development and you will hear developers speak of their hatred of RIM.  Check out Why do developers HATE RIM? [...]

  3. [...] I noted in earlier reporting this seems to be a typical RIM development [...]

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