The the iPhone and Android as the platforms of choice for mobile developers. Research in Motion is trying to make the Blackberry platform more attractive. Apple didn’t originally allow developers to write code for their devices and pushed developers to create web apps instead. Personally I think they were just trying to get the distribution part worked out for how apps would be purchased and didn’t want to roll out the hardware and the distribution infrastructure at the same time.
RIM’s response was to create their own “App World” where Blackberry apps can be featured, purchased and downloaded. The purchase process is very convoluted and requires a Paypal account to pay for purchases. Apple on the other hand integrates their purchases with the iTunes store so it is seamless and doesn’t require a third party payment service.
Research in Motion is trying to bring this type of capability to developers as well as in-app purchases for additional content or features–something the iPhone has. While these may help attract developers, the Blackberry platform appears to be going through some big changes. The newest Blackberry, the Torch, runs Blackberry 6 OS and it sounds like 6 will be compatible with some of the more modern Blackberry devices out there.
However, RIM also announced the new Playbook (an odd name considering the company’s focus on corporate sales) would be based on a new operating system from QNX. Comments from several people from RIM make it sound as if this operating system will eventually be what is run on phones as well. It appears unlikely that the QNX operating system will be capable of running on any of the current phones.
OS X is turning into an even bigger asset for Apple because they have an OS that can scale up to run on a large server or down to run on a handheld device. RIM is going to have to work hard to stay relevant–particularly as Apple encroaches on the corporate market where Blackberrys have traditionally had a stronghold.