Interview

Marmalade: Communication with consumers key to BlackBerry 10's success

Marmalade: Communication with consumers key to BlackBerry 10's success
As I type, RIM - itself just rebranded as BlackBerry - has just finished launching BlackBerry 10 in multiple locations across the globe.

For several months now, BlackBerry has been attempting to woo the mobile development community, hosting port-a-thons, pledging $10,000 developer revenues and handing out PlayBooks left, right and centre.

Soon, we'll see if that's all paid off.

Cross-platform development framework Marmalade has been working with BlackBerry throughout this process, partnering with the Canadian company to incentivise BB 10 ports.

After all, for Marmalade's community of developers, exporting a game to a new platform is a simple process.

So, with the BB 10 launch mere minutes away, we caught up with Marmalade COO Harvey Elliott to hear his take on BlackBerry's latest roll of the dice.

Pocket Gamer: In what ways has Marmalade been working with BlackBerry ahead of the BB 10 launch?

Harvey Elliott: We've been working very closely with BlackBerry and our developer community to bring a huge selection of games and apps across to the BlackBerry 10 platform ahead of the launch.

Late last year, we ran a promotion with RIM offering free Marmalade licenses and BlackBerry PlayBook devices to developers who chose to create for BB 10 or port existing apps across.

We've been a part of BlackBerry's extended programme to incentivise and entice developers to publish on their platform.

What level of interest have you seen from your users in bringing their games to BB 10?

Marmalade is a powerful cross platform tool and allows developers to deploy their games and apps across iPhone, Android, BlackBerry, Windows Phone, and many more platforms.

In August last year, BlackBerry accounted for just under 3 percent of our total deployments (builds created for a specific platform).

Since launching the offer, and with the huge awareness in BB 10 we have seen this surge to 24 percent, just behind iOS and Android.

Android and iOS are clearly the front runners, but there's a race for third place between Windows Phone 8 and BlackBerry 10. What do you see as the strengths and weaknesses of these rival platforms?

In general, any challenger to a front-running platform needs a very compelling argument as to why they are worth considering - both to end users and to developers.

In the case of Windows Phone – they have a strong connectivity developing across all of their devices, for example unified login across Windows 8 family of devices, and integration with Xbox Live.

They also have a clean interface, and some neat features that really suit their hardware.

The challenge for Windows Phone is building consumer interest in their phone devices from a relatively cold start - iOS, Android and BlackBerry have all historically enjoyed significant market successes - and getting it in the hands of users to discover how it feels and operates.

For BlackBerry, it has historically enjoyed a really strong user base, predominantly from enterprise and business customers. The users are also extremely loyal to BlackBerry, and have helped keep the platform competitive in a number of key markets prior to the launch of BB10.

The challenge for BlackBerry is that their major update is after the latest updates in iOS, Android - and after the release of Windows Phone 8.

BlackBerry has great technology, which genuinely feels different to the other devices to use, and have spent a lot of time and effort in rounding out the offering to consumers to ensure games are equally important within their ecosystem.

Why should developers launch their games on BB 10? Wouldn't they be better off focusing their attention on more popular platforms?

There are clear advantages for developers of high-quality content to get some real cut-through on the new marketplace.

BlackBerry 10 isn't backwards compatible with previous versions of the BlackBerry OS, so the BlackBerry World store is a completely unexplored territory.

The opportunities are there for breakthrough hits to shine in a less-congested environment, but it's also a great additional revenue stream for developers with existing content that's already been successful on other platforms.

It is also important to note that developers aren't choosing to develop for BB10 or iOS and Android – the choice is to develop for iOS, Android and BB 10. Technologies like Marmalade helps ensure developers can do this easily and cost effectively, which also helps limit the financial risk.

What are you expecting from the BB 10 launch today?

Our engineers have had a very positive experience of working with the BlackBerry 10 OS, and BlackBerry's use of open source standards has been a big draw for a lot of our community.

RIM has certainly pulled out all the stops in giving developers great reasons to embrace BlackBerry 10 – and app content is definitely coming through into the stores.

It's clear that BlackBerry understands the importance of a strong app ecosystem to ensure the platform remains healthy and achieves the level of growth it deserves.

How well BlackBerry can communicate this over the coming days and weeks, and get their devices into the hands of consumers, will determine how well the hardware is adopted.
Thanks to Harvey for his time.
Staff Writer

PocketGamer.biz's news editor 2012-2013

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