BlackBerry CEO John Chen thinks the government should mandate that mobile app developers and service makers offer their goods across a range of platforms.

Today you can install BlackBerry Messenger on an iPhone or Android device. But you can’t install Apple’s iMessage on a BlackBerry phone. Chen would like to see that change… although it seems odd to call for government intervention.

bb classic

I get where he’s coming from: BlackBerry’s market share is dwindling, and part of the reason is that many of the best apps available for iOS and Android aren’t available for BlackBerry.

That’s why starting with the BlackBerry 10 operating system the company has built support for Android apps into its software and bundled the Amazon Appstore to make it easy for users to find and download some Android apps. But that still opens the door to a fraction of the number of apps that are available on a device that’s actually running Android… and the experience isn’t always as good as it would be if you were running a native BlackBerry app.

So while BlackBerry users can run the Android version of Netflix, in Chen’s open letter, he singled out Netflix as an example of a company that doesn’t offer a native BlackBerry app.

But what would that mean for independent app developers, like a high school kid working on a simple iPhone game? Would that kid have to make sure the app can also run on Android, Windows Phone, BlackBerry, Tizen, Firefox OS, and Sailfish?

Actually… if Mozilla has its way, that might happen. The Firefox OS operating system is based on the idea that developers can create fully-functional apps using HTML5 and other web technologies. One advantage of this approach is that apps for Firefox OS are basically web apps that you should be able to run on any mobile device with a modern web browser. But it doesn’t sound like that’s what Chen is asking for.

Instead, he’s piggybacking on the discussion over Net Neutrality (and whether internet service providers should be able to prioritize certain types of traffic over others) and trying to change the conversation into something that would help BlackBerry remain competitive.

Sure, I’d love to live in a world where the best iPhone apps are available for Android and the best Android apps are also available for BlackBerry — so it wouldn’t much matter what operating system you were using, because the best apps would run on all of them. But it’s hard to imagine government intervention making that happen.

It makes a lot more sense to enforce regulations applying to internet service companies, where there tend to be monopoly or duopoly conditions in most markets or to wireless carriers, (where a handful of companies control most of the US market) than to direct millions of app developers to support BlackBerry.

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9 replies on “BlackBerry CEO wants app neutrality: iMessage for BlackBerry”

  1. BlackBerry has many issues, and the least of them is third party app support.

    First, they have yet to get their OS & core apps up to par outside of the HUB.

    Secondly, their hardware is woefully over-priced, out dated, and/or borked up designed to be niche devices.

    Thirdly, BlackBerry is still making messaging devices while their competitors are producing smartphones. Personally I would like to see a true mobile PC.

    The fact that few are buying BB10 devices since their launch tells us something. The fact that BlackBerry introduced the “Classic” at $449 and all it has over its older brother the Q10 ($179) is the tool belt, tells us all something. The fact that BBRY released a borked up phablet in the “Passport” tells us something.

    The fact that Chen states they are going to focus on their “sweet spot” the “high-end market” and proceeds to release the cheap POS Z3 to the world tells us something.

    The fact that Chen states he needs to sell 10 million devices per year to keep the hardware division alive and then proceeds to release their flagship, the BB Passport a self admitted, by Chen, niche device tells us a lot.

    You want to sell 10 million devices per year and you release a niche device to do that? You want the high-end market and you release a cheap POS to do that? You think the tool belt and track-pad are going to save BlackBerry on over-priced slow 2011 hardware?!?!?!?!

    There’s a whole lotta WTF!!!! going on at BBRY these days, and this is just the latest installment. And third party app support has nothing to do with all this WTF!!!! that’s been going on.

  2. In other News: I would like government intervention on the matter of Bill Gates not making the same funding available to me directly as he did to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. I feel like i should get the same amount of money, because it would benefit me directly!

  3. I would support a law to prohibit active blocking of this (similar to how mobile carriers try to charge extra money for sending the same data through a tethered connection) where it takes extra effort to block something. I would not support requiring developers to do extra work to support everything.

  4. C.E.O.s want all kinds of crazy crap that will benefit them directly.
    This one has more reason than others, but still.

  5. I’ll copy/paste what i said somewhere else and expand
    “There is however a tangential point here.
    When some devices are blocked even if capable of running the content.
    some content providers blocked Google TV or Apple not streaming their
    launches on non-Apple devices without any valid reason just because they
    are …..
    Even access to Google Play can be seen as a problematic
    issue since Google is using it as leverage to push it’s services and
    devices that don’t play ball get punished for it.
    Netflix could enable streaming in the browser on BB, no need for an app.”

    And it is an interesting problem , some could drop offering the service in a browser and do it just in apps, just to deny access to some devices.
    Something should be done at least about monopolistic services . FB, Twitter, Wiki even Netflix are just too relevant to be allowed to ban devices. Itunes used to be that in music in the US ,it made no sens to allow for it to not be available on Android but it doesn’t matter anymore .
    Ofc you have lots of form factors , from watches and glasses to PCs and TVs, different software, different ISAs and running anything on everything is just not doable from a technical point of view,although the industry dreams of it. Maybe we get there at some point but it just can’t be forced now.
    We should watch out for abusive blocks , that have no justification.
    And someone should remind Chen that BB Hub is not something they share even if there is demand for it. Given what he said today he’ll have a hard time arguing that it’s impossible or too hard.

    1. Service blocking and Net Neutrality is an entirely different class of problem.

      Not making an app on BB isn’t a “ban” on BB. The device would be capable if they put android on there. Not making an app on BB is simply being considerate of your development capability and cost. IF BB wants an app that badly that isn’t native to their product, they should pay the company producing it to cover development.

      HTML over WEB is a standard, since most current browsers support similar functions and most libraries accommodate browser nuances without adding complexity. It would actually require MORE work making it break on specific devices.

      Your OS, APIs and system calls is NOT.

      Looking at the example:

      Netflix relied on silverlight to deliver encrypted video streams. Linux users were left in the cold unless they ran emulators and hacked their way around it. By JC’s idea they should have done it in a version compatible to another OS right? So would he blame Netflix for not using HTML5 or Microsoft’s Silverlight?

      Lets assume Netflix gets pushed into making another app for an OS which doesn’t have the API layer it’s using for encryption. Now that app on the other OS gets hacked and videos downloaded en masse. Now they’re liable for fines from whoever provided them with the content, and may lose content through possible breaches in contract.

      1. You could have read what i said instead of refusing to and just going on a pointless rant.
        And the MPAA logic is hilarious, yay for DRM. Everything gets pirated anyway,even Netflix and the DRM has no actual purpose .Oh boy ,it’s been so long since someone actually dared to voice this logic, made me lol.
        Anyway Netflix has a huge share in VoD and the rules change so yes they should be forced to support web streaming on BB if BB complies to reasonable standards.Silverlight is not reasonable, nor is DRM since it serves no purpose , it’s the fruit of of some paranoid lunatics.

        1. Unfortunately I did read it.
          “Everything gets pirated anyway”
          – not a point 😛

          You can’t force a company to develop for other platforms if they’re reliant on APIs or other layers that aren’t on those platforms. They would have contracts to uphold with their providers for security. If BB wants an app badly enough, they should pay development costs.
          You thinking silverlight or DRM serves no purpose is just an opinion.

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