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BlackBerry Announces Issues Paying 3rd Party Developers 12


Since its inception, the number one issue raised by users is a lack of Application availability on BlackBerry 10.

Its no secret that the applications and games that ship with BlackBerry 10 devices can be problematic.  Just looking at the BlackBerry 10 Facebook application, you can see in the reviews all the issues users have been having.  This is one of the many reasons why third-party developers (and applications such as Face10) have become so critically important to maintaining the BlackBerry 10 ecosystem.

And with ongoing payment and technical issues with BlackBerry World for Developers, this isn’t likely to be fixed anytime soon.

A Delicate Balance

Historically, this symbiosis has been great – independent developers get to bring in a little bit of cash, BlackBerry gets to save a bundle on software development, and users get to pick from several feature rich offerings.  In fact, like most other manufacturers, BlackBerry also gets a share of the profit – keeping anywhere from 30-50% of the application sales in fees as part of their agreement (albeit, BlackBerry tend to be a bit heavier on their with-holdings than Google, Apple and Microsoft at the time of this article).

This has long been a win-win for BlackBerry, who has struggled to gain application traction in BlackBerry World.

As a side effect, BlackBerry 10 consumers have become fully reliant on these third-party developers for applications and services.

Payment Issues

For the first time since the release of BlackBerry 10, BlackBerry has softly announced that it cannot pay its third-party developers, only citing “issues” as the reason:

We are experiencing an issue with our February vendor payments and there will be a delay until early March.

We apologize for this inconvenience and I’ll update this post when the issue has been resolved.

Thank you for your continued partnership and understanding in this matter.

Best Regards,

Lou

This also is not the only issue facing developers with the BlackBerry 10 platform.

Uncertainty for the platform aside, developers have reported various issues with the BlackBerry World Vendor Portal for weeks (where they go to post and create applications), issues with the BlackBerry Beta Zone, and even consumers are reporting issues trying to install updates for BlackBerry branded applications directly from BlackBerry World.

BlackBerry officials have been investigating some of these issues for weeks, and have the following to say:

Vendor Portal issues causing delays in new apps/releases to appear has been resolved. This also solves issues downloading Draft releases.

Site Map: Maintenance and upload timeout errors have also been resolved.

We are continuing to investigate the download issue seen with the Android Runtime.

We are investigating the Beta Zone login issue.

Its important to take these resolved issues with a grain of salt, as they have stated the issues have been resolved before when in actual fact multiple developers continue to report the issues as on-going / unresolved.  Although, we do hope all barriers between users and applications are finally resolved soon.

Speculation

There are many possible reasons for the payment issue, including recent staffing changes, technical issues or the possibility of lackluster BlackBerry Priv sales impacting their access to payouts.

One thing that stands out is that most companies aim to resolve technical issues within hours or days. And BlackBerry is a very “technically” capable company.

Issues causing them to know in advance that they are unable to pay third-party developers for weeks at a time suggests either a very major (gut, throw out, replace hardware) technical failure, or more likely an external force affecting their ability to perform business transactions (such as changing payroll companies or overspending from the funding account reserved for BlackBerry Developer payments).  This suggests whatever the issue is, it is significant and likely to be a failure experienced on the business side of the company.  At this point, developers can only trust that BlackBerry will work through whatever issues they are encountering.

BlackBerry has been under pressure for years to implement better communication strategies to engage its developer community but has yet to do so.

  • Update:  Although we have not received the email ourselves, we can confirm that a limited number of developers have now received emails notifying them of the payment issue.

Conclusion

Regardless of the reason, failing to pay third-party developers can only result in negativity between some developers and BlackBerry 10 development (both in the short and long-term).

Here are some of the comments we’ve seen on the subject (with developer names omitted to protect their privacy):

… we all have the same issues, that we didn’t get the payment

I’m glad they’ve responded at least

… devs not following that thread will probably never find out

they should have sent out an email to all devs and not just post … on some board

they’re sending a clear message though “Don’t do business with us”

not paying (developers) is a bad sign

Issues happen, but as always, communication is key.  It’s fair to say any developers remaining on the platform are passionate about the product line and are hopeful that this isn’t an indication of things to come.

I’ve reached out to BlackBerry officials for additional information on the issue and requested that they revisit their communication practices to developers, but I have not heard back from them as of the time of this posting.


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12 thoughts on “BlackBerry Announces Issues Paying 3rd Party Developers

  • Anilu7

    First, I’d like to thank third-party developers for their interest and passion, and for caring and continuing to develop apps for users. Hugs for all of you. On behalf of users, I’m sorry it’s been so hard on you to be a BlackBerry dev. :'(

    • Lloyd Summers Post author

      Thank you for the support! Its inevitable, eventually BlackBerry 10 just won’t be there anymore – but that said, it is my hope that they will continue to invest time to improve the platform and continue allowing developers to grow into the platform :) The users I’ve met are amazing, and the other developers are incredible. I’ll be sad when the day comes that I can’t keep using my Passport every day!

  • wussel

    Why does almost every article about Blackberry in this Apple blind media world has to ly about Blackberry? With 2,7 billion in cahs the “business side” is really not the problem for unpaid developer Bills. Stop spreading lies and false rumors just because Apple pays you for it.

    • Lloyd Summers Post author

      I don’t own any apple products and I’m certainly not one of their “Dark Evil Henchmen” on the take with some massive conspiracy to take over BlackBerry’s 0.2% market share (although in hindsight that does sound like fun!). My honest advice, take a break. Relax. Realize you’re on my personal blog (not some giant media conglomerate) – and welcome by the way! Remember you are focusing on a point under the term speculation. I’m not going to go into assets vs cash or mobile handset division vs QNX divsion – its outside the scope of the post and makes much more sense on a user forum where a deep conversation can happen. At the end of the day, if you have your own theories to contribute to the conversation that transcend blaming Apple then please, by all means I encourage you to share it :) That aside, if you are looking to troll and follow products blindly, I have the perfect blog in mind for you …

    • Bojan

      wussel I really wish Lloyd was paid by Apple and everything was a lie, but it’s not. Technical issues have been going on months, payments have been delayed before but not that much. Some of the developers still live from developing BlackBerry 10 applications, I’m pretty sure they’re not too happy about it. Sometimes it really feels like they want us to go away…

    • DJ

      The writer of this article is a BlackBerry developer, whose apps I have downloaded and used. Such an article comes from a point of passion because they stick around supporting the platform for the many users that are thankful for these apps. I’m not sure you read through the article or just read the headline before writing your comment but the writer is just writing of his disappointment. There are many developers still dedicated to building apps for the platform and when things like this happen, it’s hard for them. So don’t give them a hard time.

  • DJ

    Echoing Anilu’s comment. I am grateful for all developers still working hard to bring apps to #BlackBerry10. You enrich our experience even more and I really hope BlackBerry work hard to keep the developer relations up and show their support to developers. Thank you

  • Josh Wedekind

    A very disconcerting course of events. I feel badly for the developers who live off of BlackBerry10 app sales (yes, there are some). As Lloyd so eloquently put in a private conversation, “Unless the truth is worse than anyone of your users can imagine, the true should always be your go to.” Otherwise, you leave yourself wide open to speculation. And I am right now imagining some very, very bad possibilities.

  • Roger Leblan

    To be fair with BlackBerry, I’m a developer myself and did received an email this morning letting me know that my payment is delayed, stating “an issue”, no more details. I believe that they did send out this email following Lloyd suggestion to use a proper way of communication instead of posting a comment in an unrelated thread of an unrelated forum, so thanks for reaching out to them. Let’s hope for the best and BB on.

  • simon stubbington

    If I was a dev I would give BlackBerry a wide berth. The way they are dealing with this confirms.BlackBerry 10 is dead in the water and BlackBerry obviously have no future planned for it so they don’t need to waste time and resources on respect for people who believed them and stood by them. Let’s just hope the payments in March has more substance than bb10 coming to Playbook. One thing BlackBerry have mastered is the art of stringing people along! I’m going to miss my BlackBerry but. For the price of a Priv I would rather get a high end android. RIP BlackBerry handsets!

    • Lloyd Summers Post author

      I think you make a great point, BlackBerry did lose some credibility with their BB10 for Playbook cancellation – followed by discontinuing support for the Playbook in general. It was quite unfortunate, as it had so much potential.