BlackBerry maker Research In Motion Ltd (RIM) invited software programmers to develop applications for its new mobile operating system while officially launching an application development contest in Taipei yesterday.
The Canadian company said the application development contest is aimed at building a business-based mobile application ecosystem that can help small and medium-sized enterprises boost operational efficiency.
The move is also part of RIM’s attempts to regain a share in the smartphone market that was taken by Apple Inc and Google Inc.
RIM’s market share in the smartphone market dwindled to 4.3 percent in the third quarter, lagging behind Google Android’s 75 percent and Apple iOS’ 14.9 percent.
The company is scheduled to launch two smartphone models running its latest mobile operating system, BlackBerry 10, in New York on Jan. 30.
The company’s BlackBerry Enterprise Service, which allows businesses to manage data and enterprise applications on smartphones, will also be upgraded to version 10 and launched at the same time.
“Our new products will not just be a toy for users to have fun with, but a tool for businesses to enhance their business operations,” Peng Ming-i (彭明義), senior director of Greater China Marketing and China Distribution Sales at RIM China, told a press conference in Taipei.
“The new BlackBerry 10 will be a platform that meets businesses’ demands by providing them with customized solutions,” Peng said, citing features which could help with writing business proposals, monitoring business performance and capacity or managing customer services.
“Software can help businesses, especially small and medium-sized enterprises, reduce their financial burden, break into new markets more easily, and, most importantly, manage the company purely on mobile devices,” Peng said.
According to RIM, contestants can use the company’s BlackBerry software development kit (SDK) to recompile existing applications or use the company’s Cascades user-interface framework to develop new programs which could work with BlackBerry 10.
RIM said that the deadline for proposal submissions is Dec. 31, and the company will hold an information meeting for contestants on Dec. 14.
On Jan. 10, RIM will release a list of 20 selected teams, while a demo review session will be held in March.
Winners of the first prize will receive NT$300,000 (US$10,290) and two tickets to attend next year’s BlackBerry World conference.
The top six runners-up will be awarded NT$100,000, while the top 20 teams will awarded a BlackBerry PlayBook tablet computer.
As for RIM’s new BlackBerry smartphones, Peng said the company would launch two models — one with a touch-screen keyboard and one with a hardware keyboard.
The company will also release a special model with built-in Unicode Pinyin for Chinese users soon after the product launch, he said.
A unique application will be embedded in the devices to provide Chinese users with more accurate spelling results, Peng added.