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.
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.
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.
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.
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.