RIM is busy beavering away on the next generation of its mobile OS — BlackBerry 10, with a launch planned for Q1 next year — but there’s more to mobile than having a shiny new OS these days. The BlackBerry-maker needs developers working in parallel making apps for its new ecosystem to be in with any chance of attracting the smartphone crowds. Today the company has opened the doors on the first global BlackBerry Tech Center at its EMEA HQ in Slough, UK, which gives BB10 developers a workspace and a team of developer helpers to help them deliver the goods.
RIM has distributed more than 5,000 BlackBerry Dev Alpha test units to app developers so far. Last week Roger Enright, regional leader for RIM’s EMEA product management, was bullish on BB10 apps — telling me: “We’ve got fantastic momentum in terms of developers”, and adding RIM is “very confident of what we’ll have in terms of apps at launch”. He would not disclose any details on how many apps are being created for BB10, however, and the launch of developer centres suggests RIM isn’t taking any chances on BB10 apps.
The Slough-based BlackBerry Tech Center opened its doors to BB10 developers today — providing a dedicated weekdays workspace from 9am to 5pm. As well as desks and chairs, developers making the trek to Slough can expect help from an on site BlackBerry developer evangelist team. Different weekdays have a different focus — with the bulk of the week given over to helping developers for alternative mobile platforms port their apps across to BB10.
On Mondays the BB10 team will focus on helping developers with Native/Cascades/Qt; Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays are about helping Android, iOS and Windows developers bring existing apps to BB10 “using a range of tried and tested porting strategies”; while Wednesdays are targeting guidance on developing with BlackBerry WebWorks/HTML 5. RIM says the developer space will also host a “wider range of developer engagement activities” and, more generally, function as a hub for BB10 developers to collaborate and knowledge-share.
Alec Saunders, VP Developer Relations at RIM said in a statement: “The opening of this first BlackBerry Tech Centre underscores our ongoing commitment to actively engage with and support the efforts of our developer community. This new centre in our EMEA headquarters designates space where developers can draw on the resources and skill set of our experienced developer evangelist team to help them create compelling apps for the new BlackBerry 10 platform.”
“I’m looking forward to seeing the apps that will come from the UK developer community over the weeks and months ahead,” he added.
It’s not clear how many developer-friendly Tech Centres RIM plans to open globally. We’ve reached out to ask and will update with any response.
Update: RIM says it plans to open Centres in Silicon Valley, Vancouver, India and Indonesian — in addition to the one in Slough. The company says there is also one in Waterloo, Canada.