Friday, 22 February 2013

Instagram Delivers A Painful Blow To BlackBerry's Software Hopes

BlackBerry Z10 in the house for a spell.
The BlackBerry Z10 (Photo credit: jfingas)
Instagram will not be releasing a native code version of their client for the new BlackBerryZ10 and the BB10 Operating System (reportsAllThingsD). And with those words BlackBerry just lost a lot of love in the retail chain. There may be alternative photo services, there may be the option of running an ‘Android Emulation’ version of the client, but the platform who’s CEO believes it can be the third ecosystem has been seriously wounded.
It’s hard to explain the talismanic power of Instagram on a mobile platform, but the number of applications on a smartphone platform – actually make that the number of desirable applications – pays a key role in the selling strategy of today’s smartphone devices. Microsoft has found this out to their cost with Windows Phone, and while it is selling in notable numbers, it has not yet reached double digits in market share, and every new handset is reviewed with a caveat on the number of applications available.

This goes double for BlackBerry. They are new on the block, the first model in the shape of the Z10 is unproven and while the software and hardware are competent there doesn’t seem to be the feeling from the reviewers that customers should consider switching over to the new platform.
Part of that is the question over apps, and so the news that one of the noted third party apps is not working on a BlackBerry version will lead to many questions in the mind of consumers and other developers. Consumers want their phone to do the same as ‘Jeremy in IT’ can do with his phone, while developers will be wondering where the value is in BlackBerry apps if Instagram are passing on the opportunity.
Blackberry has tried to get around this problem with the ability for Android apps to be compiled so they will run on a BB10 device like the Z10 but this isn’t something the end user can deal with, it needs to be done at the developer level. It’s not a perfect solution, the output still feels like an Android app, and the code expects the inputs to mirror an Android device. All this must be taken into consideration by the emulator layer and the developer doing the porting and testing work. It’s not a black box that will always work, testing will be needed, and it will always feel ‘wrong’ when running next to native BB10 apps.
Tricky technical solutions aside, the consumers will hear ‘BlackBerry does not have Instagram’. Couple that news with lowered sales expectations, dropping share price, and a feeling of ‘nice but not enough’ and it looks like it’s going to be a disheartening start to 2013 for BlackBerry.

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