BlackBerry's developer guru on its Android apps: Users hate them

Roughly 20 percent of BlackBerry's app catalog is made up of programs ported from Android -- and those apps tend to catch flak.

BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins speaking at the company's BlackBerry Live event. Brian Bennet/CNET

ORLANDO, Fla. -- BlackBerry's advice for getting love from "CrackBerry" nation: build a native app.

In an effort to augment its library, BlackBerry allowed developers to port over existing Android apps to run on BlackBerry 10 devices. While most of them work, they can't access major features on the device. BlackBerry users notice the difference.

"From a commercial perspective, users hate them," said Alec Saunders, head of developer relations at BlackBerry. "Our partners who have ported apps get dinged for them."

There's some momentum behind app development for BlackBerry 10, Saunders told CNET in an interview. Of the 120,000 BlackBerry 10 apps available -- a milestone announced earlier on Tuesday by CEO Thorsten Heins -- 50,000 were created over the last four months.

Developer support is crucial for getting a burgeoning platform off the ground. Both Apple's iOS and Android boast a wide library of apps, enhancing the perceived value of the products that run on those platforms. BlackBerry is late to the game, but rapidly gaining ground.

Porting over Android apps allows companies to quickly get on BlackBerry and test the waters. Saunders said it takes about 5 minutes to port one over -- as long as it can be ported. But it's not the ideal situation, he conceded.

Despite the push for native apps, the breakdown remains roughly the same. About 20 percent of its total catalog is made up of ported apps, with 80 percent native to BlackBerry 10.

Still, interest is on the rise. According to a study by Pivot, 47 percent of developers said last year that they were likely to develop on BlackBerry 10. The number is up to 88 percent now.

A Strategy Analytics found it the top-rated developer program in the industry.

"Developers are satisfied with what we're doing," Saunders said.

While the company has been focusing on filling its library up, it will begin to shift the focus to foster apps that are more innovative and can do more with the device, Saunders said. The company isn't likely to score any exclusive apps, but he said more developers are opting to build for its platform first.

Partly because BlackBerry 10 runs on code that virtually every programmer is familiar with.

"From what developers say, it is significantly easier," he said.

About the author

Roger Cheng is the executive editor in charge of breaking news for CNET News. Prior to this, he was on the telecommunications beat and wrote for Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal for nearly a decade. He's a devoted Trojan alum and Los Angeles Lakers fan.

 

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