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RIM Developers Fleeing to iPhone, Android

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In March 2010, I wrote that BlackBerry users are destined to defect to iPhone and Android. Besides bearing a lack of innovation, limited loyalty, and a market niche utterly devoid of "fun," BlackBerry is missing out on a key ingredient for a successful platform: developers.

App developers haven't found much foot traffic within the walls of the BlackBerry App World. Not only is Research in Motion taking on water, but those who could patch the hull are fleeing the half-submerged ship for the formidable fleets of Apple and Google.

Several developers told Bloomberg that they can no longer afford to design for the BlackBerry platform. Seesmic -- maker of the popular social media app -- announced it would cease BlackBerry support by the end of the month.

"You have to put your resources where the growth is," Seesmic CEO Loic Le Meur told Bloomberg. "It's coming down to the explosive growth of the iPhone and the Android operating systems."

Fellow developer Purple Forge -- which designs apps for political campaigns and polling -- is following suit, and will only return to the BlackBerry fold if the demand warrants it.

"As soon as RIM brought in a touchscreen and mixed it with a thumbwheel, a keyboard and shortcut keys, it made it really difficult and expensive to develop across devices," said Purple Forge CEO Brian Hurley. "What Apple scored big on is having a touch screen and a button and that's it."

"In deploying Apple applications, there are very few surprises," he added. "In Android, there are increasingly more surprises. But in BlackBerry, there are immediately lots of gotchas across the board."

And there doesn't appear to be a triumphant comeback destined for the near future.

As reported last week, RIM is forcing carriers to approve subpar devices in order to fill the market before the introduction of BlackBerry's next system, QNX. So rather than taking a break and hoping customers have a short memory, RIM is reminding users that its products are not worth their time.

Making matters worse, developers are biding their time until well after the introduction of QNX. Jefferies & Co. analyst Peter Misek -- who has an "underperform" rating on RIM -- told Bloomberg, "The vast majority of developers build for Android and iOS and have no plans to build for RIM until QNX is fully up and they can evaluate it." He added, "Until then, they are unlikely to support QNX in any meaningful way as an active platform."

That is, if RIM can make it that long.

(See also: Why BlackBerry Users Will Defect and RIM Hangs Itself with Latest Disaster)

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