Contrary to popular opinion, BlackBerry users have actually avidly embraced smartphone apps.
That was the key message during today's DevCon Europe event hosted by Research In Motion. Alec Saunders, head of RIM's developer relations, has been the key evangelist in the cause of drumming up interest in BlackBerry's platform at a time when it faces many questions about its growth prospects and ability to compete against the likes of Android and iOS.
Saunders provided the headline stat for the day: 6 million apps downloaded from BlackBerry's App World each day, or nearly 150 million a month, according to a company statement. Reiterating another key message, Saunders said BlackBerry apps are actually quite profitable, noting that users download more paid apps on App World than on Android, and that BlackBerry apps generate 40 percent more revenue than their Android counterparts. Roughly 13 percent of BlackBerry developers have made more than $100,000--a higher percentage than with Android or iOS.
The point is clear: You want to make money? Head over to BlackBerry.
For the past few months, Saunders, who was brought in through the QNX acquisition and brings a steady bit of energy to the gig, has been on a mission to debunk the myth that BlackBerry's app ecosystem is dead. Getting the support of the developers is vital to RIM having a shot at turning itself around. Without a significant library of apps, RIM's current BlackBerry 7 would have an increasingly difficult time competing in the market, while its next-generation BlackBerry 10 platform would be dead on arrival.
Saunders is hoping to avoid just that, using DevCon Europe as another rallying event for developers.
While Saunders is enthusiastic, the reality is RIM's library of apps lags far behind that of iOS and Android. Microsoft's platform, Windows Phone, is relatively new but has been gaining steam lately.
One of the goals for RIM at the event is to get developers comfortable with the idea of working on a platform that won't be coming out until the second half of the year. The company plans to use HTML 5 as a bridge for developers looking to make apps for BlackBerrys today that can run on next-generation devices as well.
The company said a fourth of all apps on BlackBerry App World are using HTML 5.
RIM is also taking developers through the process of converting Android apps to ones compatible with the PlayBook, which representatives have said takes relatively little time.