RIM is attempting to entice developers with cash and free gadgets to port Android and Apple games to the upcoming BlackBerry platform.
BlackBerry, which has seen Android and Apple iOS cut into its market share, held an event in Sydney on 5 December to teach Australian game developers how to port their games from other operating systems to the BlackBerry 10 platform, due for release early next year.
“Developers were rewarded for completing porting on-site with a BlackBerry PlayBook and will receive $100 for every gaming app that is approved for sale in BlackBerry App World up to a maximum of 20 apps,” RIM said.
“Developers also received a BlackBerry 10 Dev Alpha device, a prototype device running a beta version of BlackBerry 10, for every Top Arcade, Puzzle and Action game ported on-site.”
Developers at the event were able to finish making a port of their games in less than a day, according to RIM.
RIM plans a virtual event this weekend for developers who couldn’t attend in person, it said. The event starts today and runs for 36 hours. It will also hold an “Android Port-A-Thon” on 11 January, it said.
“As with our first Port-A-Thon, the more apps you port and build, the greater your rewards,” the company wrote on its developer blog.
Android continues to dominate among smartphone operating systems, representing 72.4 per cent of devices sold in the third quarter this year, according to Gartner. Apple iOS represented 13.9 per cent of devices sold, while BlackBerry had 5.3 per cent. Windows Phone represented 2.4 per cent.
Telsyte analyst Rodney Gedda said the incentive program "is not necessarily a sign of 'desperation' as such" on the part of RIM. Google has had the Android developer's challenge and Nokia and Microsoft have had similar programs, he said.
"Even if some pundits are skeptical about the success of BlackBerry 10, having another option in the touchscreen smartphone OS market is good for businesses and consumers," Gedda said.
"If RIM can get BlackBerry 10 devices right, we will have an alternative to the big 3 mobile platforms – Android, iOS and Windows Phone."
"As a developer the last thing you want is a hard time getting access to the devices and software needed to do your job. So by providing access to the platform and incentivising development, RIM is facilitating the growth of its app ecosystem."
A Commonwealth Bank official said recently that BlackBerry's declining share made the platform “a big question mark" for developing a CommBank app.
“If you look at the market share numbers today in Australia, they point in two directions, and that is Android and iOS for mobile smartphone devices,” said CommBank chief marketing officer Andy Lark.
All eyes are on how BlackBerry 10 is received by the market next year, Gedda said.
"BlackBerry devices still have significant business market share in Australia so a more modern interface with the security and management features could be the catalyst it needs to fend off the competition."
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