Free BlackBerry PlayBook - RIM offers reward for app developers

Research In Motion (RIM) is offering app developers the chance to get their hands on a free BlackBerry PlayBook

Research In Motion (RIM) is offering app developers the chance to get their hands on a free BlackBerry Playbook.

Developers who submit an app for the PlayBook that gets accepted into the BlackBerry App World prior to its initial North American release will be eligible for a free copy of the seven-inch tablet device, brought out to rival Apple's iPad.

Developers may submit as many apps as they wish but each developer will qualify for only one free PlayBook.

It is vital for the product to have a range of apps if it is to succeed, says Dale Vile, managing director at analyst Freeform Dynamics.

"In RIM's position, the weakest part of its offering is developer commitment and if you run a promotion to give them free PlayBooks then developers will respond," he said. "The gap between BlackBerry App World and the Apple app market needs to be made up but too much emphasis is being placed on numbers. RIM needs to encourage business platform developers and look at quality over quantity."

RIM has yet to confirm plans for a PlayBook version of Blackberry Enterprise Server (BES), the secure email software that has been central to its widespread adoption by businesses.

At a recent BlackBerry Playbook demonstration, a RIM spokesman told Computer Weekly the tablet would not launch with a version of BES, although he did not rule out such a product being developed.

Instead he said that BlackBerry Bridge, which comes with the PlayBook, will appeal most to businesses, allowing contacts and emails on a BlackBerry smartphone to be shared between the two devices via Bluetooth but stored only on the smartphone.

Vile says the supplier might yet have something up its sleeve. "RIM has been typically good for out-of-the-box business products. I wouldn't underestimate its plans and will wait until launch to see what it unveils," he said.

"RIM is under threat from business solutions on Apple and increasingly Android. It has always understood what the IT market and the business market wants from its products, so it will look to drive quality business applications and protect its business dominance."

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