Image of a dead-end street sign

For the last few years, the Smartphone market has been absolutely dominated by two major OS players, Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android. In that same period, the market–or maybe just the media–has been looking for a scrappy “third horse” to either come along anew, or re-assert itself after previous miscues.

From a pure market-share perspective, BlackBerry and Microsoft’s Windows Phone are the most likely candidates for the also-ran crown, with BlackBerry holding a slight statistical edge of about .8% (according to comScore). Considering that BlackBerry launched BB10 earlier this year, along with it’s new flagship Z10 handset, one might say that things can only go up from here, right?

Wrong. Consider the following:

  • According to comScore, BlackBerry’s market share dipped from May to August almost 1%, while Windows Phone grew slightly.
  • The company reported revenue from the sale of 3.7 million smartphones in the last quarter, but the majority of those sales were from older BlackBerry 7 devices, not the new Z10.
  • BlackBerry has around $2.6 billion of cash-on-hand, but spent $500 million of that cash during the last quarter.
  • Just last month, BlackBerry announced that it would be going private in the near future via a sale to a Toronto-based holdings company.
  • Later that same week, BlackBerry announced that it expects to report $1 billion in losses for its second fiscal quarter and plans to cut 4,500 jobs–nearly 40% of it’s global workforce.
  • To add insult to injury, T-Mobile announced that it plans to pull BlackBerry stock from its stores.
  • And the cherry on top: analyst firm Gartner just published a report recommending that all IT organizations abandon BlackBerry in the next 3–6 months.

I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that things are not looking good for BlackBerry. But is this the end for BlackBerry? Today, probably not? Six months from now, it’s a distinct possibility.

The truth is, we can’t do much more than speculate on the future of BlackBerry, even in the short term. What we can do, however, as Mobile developers and builders of Mobile development tools, is make decisions about how we approach BlackBerry and BB10 in the apps we build and the services we provide.

Which brings me to the meat of this post, as it relates to Icenium. It is, in fact, a single question: Should Icenium build official support for BlackBerry and BB10?

At present, we think the answer is no. However, we’ve gotten a handful of requests to add support in the past, so we thought we’d turn the question over to you as we start to think about our 2014 roadmap for the product.

Why Not?

As a follow-up to that question, you might be asking yourself, “why not?” After all, what’s the harm in adding support for this once-popular Mobile OS, regardless of trajectory?

It’s a valid question, but let’s consider the cost of full support in suite of tools and services like Icenium. As you know, much of the value of Icenium comes not only in the cloud-based development environment, but also in the rich, device-specific simulators, device management capabilities, debugging support and build services. Full support for BlackBerry would require significant engineering effort in every one of these areas. It’s effort we’re happy to invest, if needed, but effort expended for BB10 support also diminishes available capacity for some of the other great features and enhancements you’d no doubt like to see us take on in 2014.

Icenium, Kendo UI Mobile and BlackBerry: An Escape Hatch

To be clear, Icenium not supporting BB10 does not mean that you can’t use Icenium to build apps that also need a BlackBerry experience. If you’re using Icenium and Kendo UI Mobile to build iOS and Android apps, you can use Kendo UI Mobile’s existing support for BB10 to target that platform as well. That portion of your development would have to take place outside of Icenium, of course, but its an option that exists nonetheless.

What do you think?

Now it’s your turn! We’ve not yet made a decision on BlackBerry support for 2014, so here’s your opportunity to weigh in. Do you think BlackBerry will rally? Do you need BB10 support for critical apps? Or do you want use to focus on delivering other critical features inside of Icenium’s tools and services? Cast your vote in the poll below or leave a comment to let us know what you think.

About the Author

Brandon Satrom

Brandon is the founder of Carrot Pants Press, a maker education and publishing company, the founder and CEO of Tangible Labs and an avid tinkerer.


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