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Developers Defecting From BlackBerry 10 Platform


Many developers are dumping the BlackBerry, but some are staying loyal. The reason:Simple economics.

MINYANVILLE ORIGINAL Research In Motion (RIMM) is having a hard time convincing consumers and even enterprise customers that its BlackBerry platform is a better choice than the iPhone. Even with a huge user base, developers are starting to abandon the once-dominant smartphone platform.

Baird Equity Research (via AllThingsD) surveyed mobile application developers and found that many of them are giving up on waiting for BlackBerry 10 after the release date was pushed back again to early 2013. Even the outlook for BlackBerry 7 devices -- which are enormously popular in the global south -- is waning.

The developers surveyed showed a waning interest in Microsoft's (MSFT) Windows Phone 7 and 8.

Baird's research said, "31% of sampled BlackBerry 10 developers said that they have shifted some or all of their work away from BB10, compared with 34% in Q1. This is the second quarter in which we have seen fewer responders indicating that they will shift some of their work away from BlackBerry. We believe that many developers who planned to jump ship have already made the move, leaving a BlackBerry developer base that is smaller but increasingly loyal."

This doesn't spell the end for third-party development for the BlackBerry, or Windows Phone. While the Apple (AAPL) App Store and the Google (GOOG) Play Store feature hundreds of thousands of apps, the small developer base for WP and BlackBerry could be advantageous, and this explains the developer loyalty. For example, there might be hundreds of translation apps in the App Store, but very few make that much money -- especially since iOS development is the most expensive platform to write programs for, according to Vision Mobile.

One iOS developer that I spoke with recently said that she was very excited to develop for Windows Phone for the simple reason that there are fewer competing applications available on that platform. The potential for a good return on investment is better when there are fewer competitors, even if it means that you have to buy Microsoft's expensive developing platform, which only works on Windows PCs.

A similar effect works for BlackBerry developers, who make an average revenue of nearly $3900 per month, according to Vision Mobile. BlackBerry is the most lucrative for developers, and with a sizable chunk of the enterprise market clinging to the high-security and physical keyboard, there is a captive audience ready to pay for apps.

Twitter: @vincent_trivett
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