RIM launches BlackBerry APIs to developers

BlackBerry maker Research in Motion (RIM) has made it easier for companies to make money from mobile applications by allowing them to drop prepackaged advertising and micropayment applications into their software.

BlackBerry maker Research in Motion (RIM) has made it easier for companies to make money from mobile applications by allowing them to drop prepackaged advertising and micropayment applications into their software.

The two new application programming interfaces (APIs) were among a number of tools RIM announced in San Francisco at its second developers' conference.

Overall, the tools were aimed at making it easier to write applications for the BlackBerry and to integrate them so that users' experience "flowed", said Jim Balsillie, co-CEO at RIM.

Two other key announcements were the launch of geo-location APIs based on cellular radio towers, to provide in-building triangulation of users' whereabouts, and "push" APIs that allowed tighter integration with alarm, alert and notification applications.

Taken together, the intention was to remove users' awareness that they were using technology. "The only thing they should be thinking is what to do next," Balsillie said.

Some of the 1,300-plus developers at the event said the announcements were overdue. One who specialised in touchscreen phones said he was pleased with the announcements as they indicated RIM's willingness to create tools for developers.

He said the BlackBerry user base of some 32 million was clearly an attractive market. "The question for us is whether RIM has the ability to get our applications to market efficiently," he said.

RIM said it would support Adobe Flash animation and video management software on BlackBerries. It also said Dreamweaver developers would be able to create BlackBerry widgets directly. This turns millions of Dreamweaver web programmers into potential BlackBerry programmers.

Oracle chief architect Ted Farrell said many firms were trying to push data to where it was needed, and increasingly this meant to mobile platforms. Oracle had developed Fusion, a way of collecting data and formatting it for different mobile platforms.

Oracle worked with RIM on two applications, one a mobile browser and another a mobile client. Using Oracle Application Development Framework, developers could target their apps to pre-defined BlackBerry handsets with a minimum of coding.

Jeff McDowell, RIM's senior vice-president for business marketing and software alliances, said the Oracle Fusion and Adobe announcements were important to RIM and its customers as they were standard tools that anyone could use to write programmes for BlackBerries.

He said that smartphones were becoming application delivery systems. "Voice is just another app," he said.

McDowell said there were fewer and fewer "island" apps. Applications increasingly had to link to others to provide the rich functionality demanded by users, but without losing the cost-effectiveness and robust security demanded by CFOs and CIOs respectively.

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