BlackBerry Launches Developer Hero Program for BlackBerry 10

In an effort to generate some further enthusiasm for BlackBerry 10 developers, BlackBerry has announced the launch of a new “Developer Hero Program”.

The Developer Hero Program is aimed at helping developers get their app noticed and more importantly, downloaded or purchased from BlackBerry World.

The most important feature of the Developer Hero program, which starts today,  is that only new apps will be eligible for selection. Apps not only require to be new to BlackBerry, and cannot be an upgrade to an existing app in BlackBerry World, but they also must be developed using BlackBerry Native/Cascades or WebWorks.

Personally, I would have preferred that BlackBerry had set the criteria to only Native/Cascades apps but this is a major step in the right direction.

This takes developers back to the good old BlackBerry 10 pre-launch days when the initial focus was BlackBerry 10 apps, opposed to the Android ports. Developers reading this may possibly be thinking to themselves, ‘Here we go. Another smoke and mirrors program from BlackBerry to replace Built for BlackBerry.

If you are thinking that then you would be wrong!

Quite clearly, BlackBerry are not only supporting BlackBerry 10 developers but are trying to encourage developers to make BlackBerry 10 apps.

BlackBerry World is littered with simple apps that replace or add minor functions to the OS itself, clones of existing apps that illegally use or include api’s within their code and way too many Android ports that will eventually cease to work due to the Android limitations on the platform.  BlackBerry World sorely needs originality and and this type of program may just encourage new developers to come up with really original apps and to create something different that stands out.

Let’s be blunt here, the main aim for most developers is to get their apps out to as many users as possible. For free apps developers are looking at download numbers while for paid apps they are more interested in the number of sales. To achieve this though, apps need to be highlighted and promoted to as many users as possible.

Bryan Van Engelen, Senior Marketing Analyst, Ecosystem & Developer Outreach states:

“Selected apps will each receive a total of 6 months being featured on BlackBerry World, including, but not limited to, the Feature Carousel, Apps/Games Carousel, Developer Feature (featuring all of the developer’s apps), Grouped Features, Staff Picks list and more!”

The new Hero program will give any app that qualifies a huge boost when it comes to being seen by users. 6 months being featured on BlackBerry World alone could save a developer thousands in potential marketing fees elsewhere.

Any new app submitted after June 2 will be automatically eligible for the program and developers do not  need to enter any special criteria. When your app is approved BlackBerry will send you an email confirming it is eligible. The program is open until July 28, 2016 and two weeks after close, BlackBerry will select the top three developer applications that qualify for the program.

This would be a great time for any developers considering developing for the BlackBerry 10 platform to give it a go.

BlackBerry 10 JamEnterprise Developers

When you look at the selection criteria and how apps will be rated, there are indications that BlackBerry are aware that they do tend to send out mixed messages to BlackBerry developers. On one hand it’s all about the enterprise and then on the other hand they are promoting apps which are most definitely not enterprise-orientated.

However, there is no mixed message here. Apps submitted for the Developer Hero Program will be evaluated on a range of tests and criteria as follows: be newly-created applications, not previously released on BlackBerry World, built using BlackBerry 10 Native/Cascades or WebWorks HTML5, perform all tasks as outlined in the description and finally not be made using a tool/template, or simply launch a web page.

Further to this, the winning applications will be rated on User Experience – focus on form factor, content, gestures and navigation, Security – focus on data security, password protection and clear transactions, Localization – multi-language support is recommended and Downloads and reviews for a two week period after approval.

These are all encouraging signs that BlackBerry are looking at serious apps for the Hero program.

Can BlackBerry go further?

One of the problems for Enterprise developers is that in the huge majority of cases we do not go anywhere near BlackBerry World.  From initial app conception to final distribution points, everything is different for enterprise developers and BlackBerry World is really not suitable as an existing distribution point.  However, BlackBerry could go further with BlackBerry World and make it a suitable distribution for Enterprise Developers.

For a start, they can quite easily remove the limited Android Runtime from the BlackBerry 10 OS. If BlackBerry users want Android they can buy a Priv or one of the upcoming mid-range Android devices from BlackBerry.  Removing the Android Runtime would result in the obligatory removal of all the Android ports in BlackBerry World.

The next step would be the removal of all the “non enterprise” or “productivity” apps in BlackBerry World, trimming BlackBerry World down to what BlackBerry 10 is supposed to be about – enterprise and security.

If those simple (but controversial for consumer users) steps were taken we would have a BlackBerry 10 OS with a BlackBerry World that was full of apps that were suitable for what is, arguably, the best and most secure mobile operating system that currently exists.

BlackBerry 10 is a fantastic operating system and with BlackBerry’s Android focus for consumers, removing the non-enterprise features would be a huge step towards producing an enterprise focused BlackBerry World on the platform, completely different from the BlackBerry Marketplace.

Maybe BlackBerry are finally realising that when it comes to BlackBerry 10, it is not about the number of apps – it’s about what apps you have, the focus of those apps and the quality!

Whichever way you look at it, the new Hero program just may encourage more enterprise developers to develop for the BlackBerry 10 platform.