RIM Issues $10,000 Guarantee For Blackberry 10 Apps
Research in Motion Ltd. (RIM) is offering developers a guaranteed $10,000 cash payment for any app the company certifies for its Blackberry 10 handset.
The move is aimed at encouraging developers to build programs for the handset’s forthcoming system refresh, which is largely incompatible with Blackberry’s existing software.
Alec Saunders, RIM’s vice president of developer relations, made the payment guarantee announcement on Wednesday during the company’s BlackBerry World 2012 annual developer conference in Orlando, Florida.
Saunders called the campaign a “massive investment in quality.”
In order to qualify for the cash payment, an app must have earned a minimum of $1,000 on its own, and must meet the company’s quality requirements.
Saunders said there were now 99,500 software packages in the company’s App World store, up sharply from 70,000 at the beginning of the year. Nearly one-in-four were purpose built for RIM’s Playbook tablet, he said.
Separately, the company announced that future BlackBerry models would continue to include physical keyboards.
Chief executive Thorsten Heins had unveiled a prototype touchscreen BlackBerry on Tuesday during the conference, which led to speculation that RIM would abandon the physical keyboards that many of its users prefer. But Heins said that RIM’s new line of smartphones, due to launch later this year, would include both touchscreens and keypads.
“It would be wrong — just plain wrong” not to, Heins told reporters on Wednesday during the conference.
RIM spokeswoman Tenille Kennedy also confirmed that the new BlackBerry 10 operating system would include phones with physical keyboards.
Heins said the company had given developers a prototype BlackBerry on Tuesday to help them develop apps for the new software system, but emphasized that the prototype is not the final version of the device.
Heins also acknowledged on Wednesday the need for RIM to improve its marketing, and pledged to bring a new chief marketing officer on board in the near future.
RIM has long dominated the corporate smartphone market, with business users praising the BlackBerrys’ security and reliability.
But the company has struggled to compete in North America against more stylish, consumer-centric devices such as Apple’s iPhone and phones that run Google’s Android operating system.
RIM is also battling with the “bring your down device” phenomenon, in which employees bring their personal iPhones or Android devices to work instead of relying on BlackBerrys issued by their employers.
Despite the positive news coming out of the conference, shares of RIM’s stock fell 5 percent on Wednesday, closing at $12.80 per share.
The stock was among the most actively traded on the Nasdaq.