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BlackBerry 10 Is Already Bleeding

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Developers! Developers! Developers!

Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) CEO Steve Ballmer’s now infamous sweaty, delirious rant is the stuff that legends are made of. While his methods of expression may be far from … subtle, his enthusiasm over the importance of the developer community is rightly placed. Without developers, there are no apps. Without apps, there’s little content. Without robust content, there are no customers.

Survey says
Baird Equity Research recently polled 4,300 developers to gauge interest in various platforms, to see how the developer community at large views different operating systems out there, which, in turn, shows where they will focus their efforts. There’s somewhat of a chicken-and-egg phenomenon, though, as developers follow consumers, and consumers follow developers, which tends to amplify both upwards and downwards momentum for a platform.

Respondents to the survey ranked platforms on a 10-point scale regarding how they viewed the long-term outlook. You can see how the results stack up sequentially as well as year-over-year.

Source: Baird Equity Research via All Things D.

Perhaps, unsurprisingly, Google (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) Android and Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) iOS interest remains robust as the two top dogs in the market, while almost every other platform saw significant declines compared to a year ago. Just compare the blue bars to the green ones in the chart above.

No one is surprised that interest in Hewlett-Packard’s (NYSE: HPQ  ) walking-dead webOS has seen a relentless plunge. Last we heard, HP was still committing to the open source release of webOS for September, but this was back in January. Since then, key players in HP’s Enyo team, who were responsible for the platform’s HTML5-based application framework, have been poached by Google. There, they’ll likely be put to work on Chrome OS. Those who left were supposedly "responsible for 99% of the [webOS] code." Not a lot of cause for confidence there among developers, as there are literally no new webOS devices currently on the market.

Windows Phone 7 is also seeing some drop-off in interest, but some of this relates to the announcement of Windows Phone 8. A solid 71% of respondents said that the WP8 announcement piqued their interest in the platform, with 64% also showing optimism about Mr. Softy’s Surface tablet. Those are healthy signs among developers, but the real challenge will be transitioning consumers to Windows Phone 8 in the coming months, because there’s no backwards compatibility or upgrade path for existing devices.

Saving the worst for last
Research In Motion (Nasdaq: RIMM  ) has gone from bad to worse, and the company’s repeated delays of its next-generation operating system aren’t doing developers any favors. The current BlackBerry 7 platform scored a 2.8, just barely higher than webOS at 2.1, a platform that’s a bona fide zombie.

The BlackBerry maker continues to brush off concerns about the delays, instead shifting its message to quality over timing, saying it refuses to launch an unfinished product. That may sound noble, but it’s now been over two years since RIM bought QNX Software, which serves as the foundation for BlackBerry 10. By the time BB 10 is released, we’ll be approaching three. That also assumes there aren’t further delays. What happens if the OS still isn’t competitive, even after the delayed launch? More importantly, what if it has no actual advantages over iOS and Android? Why switch?

RIM’s decision to support Android apps actually seems to be hurting its BlackBerry-specific developer base also, as Baird’s results also show that developers are shifting their focus more towards Android as a result, because they can simply repackage their Android apps for BlackBerrys with a little extra legwork.


A significant chunk of developers have shifted some or all of their efforts away from BB 10 and towards Android, with a large subset shifting all work accordingly. Developer outlook for RIM is at nearly two-year lows.

With developers feeling this gloomy about the BlackBerry platform, how should consumers feel?

You might have noticed that Apple was the only platform that showed a sequential gain in the second quarter in developer outlook. That’s one of many reasons that investors should also have a bright outlook on the Mac maker’s shares. There are plenty of other reasons, and you can find them all right here in our brand new premium Apple research service. This year is an election year, and this handful of stocks might see a big boost after the presidential election. Grab a copy of this report to read more. It’s totally free.

Fool contributor Evan Niuowns shares of Apple, but he holds no other position in any company mentioned. Click here to see his holdings and a short bio. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple, Microsoft, and Google. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Google, Microsoft, and Apple. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended creating a bull call spread position in Microsoft. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended creating a bull call spread position in Apple. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

Read/Post Comments (6) | Recommend This Article (4)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On July 14, 2012, at 12:10 AM, cbglobal wrote:

    Clueless.... QNX will run Android apps. Already being done with the Playbook.

    So RIM did not decide to support Android. It is just a given. Developers will not have to write all new QNX apps from scratch. A very minor tweak and they run on a Blackberry 10 just fine.

    I live in Alexandria VA where Motley Fool is located. They are the one embarrassing blight on a otherwise beautiful town. We all wish they are leave.

  • Report this Comment On July 14, 2012, at 7:56 AM, H3D wrote:

    There is little point in discussing RIM other that in terms of the breakupvalue of its components.

    It is inconceivable that whoever buys it will continue with the bb10 project. It's a dead duck.

    RIM would therefore increase shareholder value by canning the project immediately, and focusing on an orderly sell off of bits.

  • Report this Comment On July 14, 2012, at 10:17 AM, daveraj wrote:

    Evan, you own shares of Apple, and are completely transparent in your prejudice toward RIM. But The Fools owns Apple shares too, so keep the BB hatred coming. It's in your, and The Fools, financial best interest.

  • Report this Comment On July 14, 2012, at 4:07 PM, melegross wrote:

    Is amazing how some of you guys won't admit that RIM is in big trouble, and will likely not make it. You'll say anything to defend this losing company. I wonder what you'll be saying once they're dead and gone.

  • Report this Comment On July 15, 2012, at 4:02 AM, gslusher wrote:


    "QNX will run Android apps."

    On its own, without an emulator? Will it run *ALL* Android apps, including those that require ICS or JellyBean? If not, your statement is false. Perhaps you could write, "BB10 (which is NOT the same as "QNX") can run SOME Android apps with SOME degree of success SOME of the time, using an emulator."

    Also, this "capability" is a tacit admission by RIM that few developers have much interest in spending time and money developing BB 10 apps. If developers were very interested in developing BB10 apps, there would be no reason for RIM to include an Android emulator that runs some Android apps. You don't seen Google or Apple providing an emulator that can run the other's apps, do you? They don't need to.

  • Report this Comment On July 15, 2012, at 10:35 AM, Blackberrypagers wrote:

    "QNX will run Android Apps"

    Really? Some apps, sometime, and only those not optimized to run on whatever the heck part of the fragmented Anroid platform that the original developer was targeting. Who the heck is going to write android apps optimized for the QNX emulator?

    Add to that that BB10 (let's assume that it isn't dead in the water), is still QNX at its core. If the playbook was any good, wouldn't BB10 be ready for release already? That it isn't tells me tons, surprised it isn't telling the pager crowd more.

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