No dice for Skype & Netflix on BlackBerry PlayBook

It’s crystal clear that the BlackBerry community want both Netflix and Skype apps on either (or on both) their BlackBerry smartphone or PlayBook but their wishes and requests have always gone unanswered and for reasons that are still unknown.

We keep hearing from BlackBerry (unofficially) that they are willing to help Netflix or Skype to build those apps on their BlackBerry PlayBook QNX platform if they just asked but still their tweets get no replies (as far as we know). Why? Why is it almost impossible to get Netflix and Skype on board the BlackBerry platform considering that BlackBerry has been around way before iPhone, Android and Windows Phone? This might come as a shock to all of you but even Nokia’s old, slow and outdated Symbian OS has an official Skype and Netflix apps.

The BlackBerry community has been very vocal about this issue through tweets, Facebook posts, petitions and even sending letters to Netflix and Skype’s headquarters to spread the awareness hoping it gives them the push they need to start the development but we haven’t heard or seen any positive outcome.

Look, before I say anything more I would like to mention that as a Canadian I am proud of the BlackBerry brand and support RIM. If it wasn’t for them we would probably still be using dumb phones today. That being said, I must say that I believe it isn’t completely Netflix or Skype’s fault for not building apps for the PlayBook’s QNX platform, RIM is to be greatly blamed as well.

Ponder about this for a minute. Those Twitter and Facebook apps on BlackBerry smartphones weren’t even created by Twitter nor Facebook, respectively. They were built by RIM. So it isn’t just Netflix and Skype that aren’t interested in developing apps for the BlackBerry OS (or the PlayBook’s QNX platform), it seems that both popular social networks aren’t interested either which is probably why RIM took it on themselves to create Twitter and Facebook apps.

Here is another point to think about. As I mentioned above, BlackBerry has been around way before iPhone, Android or Windows Phone, yet all those mobile platforms got official apps from Twitter, Facebook, Skype and Netflix either at launch or during a period of at most one year after launch yet BlackBerry still gets neglected. So how did, for instance, Microsoft get Netflix and Skype to develop apps for their Windows Phone platform even though Windows Phone’s market share is below all mobile operating systems on the market? The BlackBerry PlayBook is in this same spot right now with a small market share (just like Windows Phone) yet, a year later, there isn’t a single evidence that says both Netflix and Skype are working on a PlayBook app. Why is that?

Microsoft, Google and Apple all seem to have that power or influence (or whatever you want to call it) that pushes third party companies to support their mobile platforms. Microsoft definitely did something behind the scenes to get those deal breaker apps on board the Windows Phone platform before the OS had any decent market share. So it is obvious that RIM has a role to play to get those ‘must-have’ apps on their PlayBook as well.

In other words, we can’t just blame Netflix and Skype for not developing apps for the PlayBook or the BlackBerry OS. RIM, just like Microsoft, Apple and Google, has to play their part of the game or else it will always be ‘no-dice’.

Should the mobile industry look for a new USB standard?

I remember when the world turned to micro USB ports as a new standard for cell phones and everyone, including myself, was glad to finally use a standard port. The conversion was quick specially with the cellphone manufacturers and consumers started using a single charger and the world seemed to be a better place.

But now, cellphones aren’t like before. They aren’t dumb phones with small screens that require little power. They are smartphones with larger than 3.7″ screens (now up to 5″ for smartphones and up to 10″ for tablets) and they get charged mostly everyday. Once you start holding your new smartphone to plug it in, you might start seeing a problem.

The micro USB port on your mobile device, whether it’s a smartphone or a tablet, is tiny. Once you’ve connected the cable it might feel loose and most of the times you could hold the micro USB connection while it’s connected to your mobile device and wiggle it from side to side. It’s not a solid snappy connection anymore.

To make my point even clearer, compare the thin micro USB connection with the iPhone’s 30 pin connection. Which one would you think has a better, solid and firm hold to the mobile device? Without any doubt, Apple’s proprietary connection wins this argument.

The problem is that our smartphones and tablets are large these days that they cannot continue using these tiny and flimsy micro USB connections. The industry might have to look for a new USB standard.

Where is the BlackBerry Development Environment?

There isn’t any. Microsoft has Visual Studio for developing all sorts of applications including Windows Phone apps and it is simple, elegant and a 10 year old could probably do it. And Apple has their own Coco development IDE for creating Mac and iOS applications.

What about BlackBerry? Why don’t they have a complete development environment?

It’s always a massive inconvenience to me when I have to download, unpack, and install several SDKs and JDKs and configure them just to be able to create a simple ‘Hello World’ java application. But BlackBerry has a platform running on millions of devices and even an upcoming new platform (BlackBerry 10) that’s suppose to change the industry. Yet, they still haven’t got a single and complete development environment.

How is that suppose to attract developers? If anything, it will just continue to differ them to a simpler solution that doesn’t require a master’s degree to start creating apps.

Saturday, July 16 2011

Looks like RIM is taking a lot of heat from the press lately. Not just the press, but bloggers around the globe are firing negative opinions at them since RIM’s last shareholder meeting. Personally, I understand why all this is happening. They company have become more of a reactor than an inventor. They went from being smartphone leaders to followers. This makes both shareholders and consumers frustrated.

What’s mostly depressing is RIM’s ever lasting love to their outdated and mostly hated BlackBerry OS. Don’t get me wrong, RIM makes great BlackBerry devices from a hardware side. But when it comes to software, RIM is way behind. You could even say Samsung’s BADA OS starts to look like a better alternative.

BlackBerry WordPress App Glitch

The other day I decided to use the WordPress app on my old BlackBerry to write and submit a new post. As a result, there was a double post as well as my previous post’s category was removed. I couldn’t remove the double post from the BlackBerry WordPress app and when I tried to remove it from my iPad it gave me a weird error.

Something is horribly wrong with the app.

I had to go to the main WordPress website to manually remove the double post and fix my previous post. I don’t know what could have triggered such an error, nevertheless, I sent WordPress a message on twitter with the whole story.

Went Back to BlackBerry Bold

Yup, I switched back to my old trusty BlackBerry Bold 9000 last week. It’s not that I completely switched from my Android Nexus One phone or anything. I just like to switch to my old smartphones every once in a while. It either makes me appreciate the new smartphones more or regret buying them.

The BlackBerry Bold has always been the closest smartphone to my heart (after the Nokia E61, my truly first ever smartphone). The Bold’s keyboard is just unbeatable. There isn’t a smartphone keyboard out there than comes close to the Bold’s perfectly balanced and spaced out keys. It’s a true beauty.

I am sure I blogged about my love for my BlackBerry Bold so I won’t bore you with another post. I left my Nexus One in a drawer until Google decides to give us the new meaning of “next couple weeks/days” to release any update to Android. They’re starting to piss off many Nexus One and Nexus S owners.

BlackBerry Trackball, Bad Idea?

It might look cool and you can’t resist touching it but can it stand against butterfingers? I am not saying that I suffer from a case of oily, buttery, or greasy fingers but sometimes you can’t help it. That’s what happened with me this morning while I was having my first cup of coffee with a blueberry muffin.

After a couple of bites and using my BlackBerry Bold’s trackball to browse the net for some early morning news, the trackball decided to stop working. It would spin but there was contact underneath. No friction what so ever.

Normally I would freak out and start googling for a solution and if that didn’t help then I would be looking into sending the phone for repairs but not this time. Why? Well, it did happen before.

The idea of a trackball looks and sounds great on paper and it performs quite well too but it scores pretty bad when it comes to protection against dirt, oil, or grease that smartphones are always exposed to. And NO, I don’t work in a kitchen nor am I messy when I eat.

So what do you do if your trackball stopped working due to oily greasy fingers? Well, you just need to clean it. A simple continuous wipe with a napkin over the trackball until it covers the entire surface of the ball will get it working again (at least this way worked for me twice). And if that didn’t work, then you either send it in for repairs or try to take the trackball apart and attempt to clean it yourself (something I advice against).

That being said, I also have heard and read about many BlackBerry users out there complaining about their trackball being either loose, squeaky, not working, etc. Therefore I totally see RIM replacing it with some other input device…oh wait a minute, they already did with the Storm. Oh well, we all learn from our mistakes.

But I must admit that I like the trackball’s backlight which gives it that ‘pearl’ effect. I think it’s soooo purty!

Windows Live Tags: BlackBerry Bold, trackball, smartphone

 

Thoughts on BlackBerry Home Screens

Wouldn’t it be great if BlackBerry devices came with a ‘Today’ home screen that displayed the users appointments, tasks, notes, and latest messages? Of course you might say that I can download those customized home screens from other third party companies as themes and install them on my BlackBerry. But my main question here is why didn’t BlackBerry include this type of home screen with all their devices since most of their users are business men and women who would find it extremely helpful?

I switched to a BlackBerry Bold from a Nokia E61 and that type of home screen was built into the E61’s OS and it was ON by default. Why? Because the Nokia E-series is built and marketed for the business sector (unlike the N-series). Aren’t BlackBerrys on the same route? If it is, then why didn’t BlackBerry see that useful when it was implemented on previous and successful Nokia E-series models?

To close that thought, I just want to point out to BlackBerry that most of their users would love to see a ‘Today’ type home screen built into their BlackBerry OS on any of their future devices. Make it configurable. Let the user decide if he or she doesn’t need it. But don’t neglect or ignore the fact that it isn’t necessary.

Input System Error on BlackBerry Bold

This is the first time I get an error on my BlackBerry Bold. As I was browsing the internet I decided to check out the mobile version of the Yellow Pages (http://m.yellowpages.ca). After I entered in my search criteria and hit search I got an error message saying: Input System error. The system is being restarted. 

I waited for the device to restart or even for the message to go away but nothing happened. So naturally I switched to the Home screen using the handy built in task manager and then I tried opening up the browser again. The message seemed to disappear. So I decided to give the Yellow Pages another try and see if I get the same error.

I entered in the url again, I typed my search criteria and hit search. This time the search results showed up on the screen without any error messages. For all I know it could’ve been a random one-time system glitch that I may never see again.

That being said, and as I mentioned before, this is honestly the first error message I got on my Bold ever since I bought the device more than a month ago. And it seems that the Bold was able to overcome the glitch without rebooting or getting stuck. Impressive? I guess so.

Windows Live Tags: BlackBerry, bold, error

 

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The Storm is Coming

I don’t think I will ever say that I regret getting my BlackBerry Bold because it’s such a great device and I enjoy using it. But when I read all about the new BlackBerry Storm and especially its unique touch screen, I start to feel a bit jealous.

Maybe if I waited a couple of more months before getting the Bold then I would be purchasing the Storm instead. But then again if it wasn’t for the Bold I wouldn’t have given any kind of interest in any BlackBerry. The Bold was the key that unlocked that BlackBerry door for me.

I still would love to try out the new BlackBerry Storm, but my next phone upgrade is still very far away and I am sure by that time there will be other more exciting mobile devices out there.

Windows Mobile 6.5 should be officially announced soon which means HTC will be busy manufacturing Windows Mobile devices next year as well as the next generation of Android phones (G2). The year 2008 was certainly dominated by Apple’s iPhone and I think 2009 will most likely be overtaken by the next generation of Microsoft’s Windows Mobile phones. Or at least I hope so.