BlackBerry Application Devs Get Push Update as Mobile App Usage Soars

Research In Motion today rolled out the BlackBerry Push Service to developers working on BlackBerry OS mobile applications -- a move that will allow them to provide users with automatic, uninterrupted updates that don't require downloading the new data.

Using the new push feature, BlackBerry app developers can send up to 8KB of content in each transmission update. The BlackBerry user will see a notification appear, letting him or her know that one of their mobile applications has new information. The user can then open the updated app without closing out of any running programs. RIM says this differs from other mobile app update protocols because users don’t have to open the app and download the new information.

"It’s not a notification that tells you to go get information, it brings you the information. Other platforms flip the flag up on the mailbox, letting you know it’s time to go to the end of the driveway and get your mail. BlackBerry Push delivers the mail to your kitchen table, open and ready to be read," said a RIM spokesperson in a statement.

News of the push feature comes at a time when RIM is facing fierce competition in the lucrative smartphone market, as recent surveys show handhelds running Google's Android OS and Apple's iPhone are narrowing the gap in market share. Still, RIM's BlackBerry continues to rank No. 1 in the U.S. For the quarter ending in January, RIM's BlackBerry market share held at 43 percent, a 1.7 percent increase from three months earlier, according to research firm comScore. Apple's iPhone placed second with 25.1 percent market share, a 0.3 percent nudge up from the previous period.

Meanwhile, the surge in mobile app usage -- and resulting revenue -- is expected to continue. "The overall mobile apps downloads are expected to increase from over 7 billion in 2009 to almost 50 billion by 2012 growing at the rate of 92 percent CAGR. The revenue from mobile apps, which includes both paid downloads and revenue from advertising and virtual goods, is expected to increase from $4.1 billion in 2009 to $17.5 billion by 2012 at the rate of 62 percent CAGR," according to the app marketplace firm GetJar blog.

BlackBerry OS App Developers Get Pushy

Given the high-flying performance of the smartphone sector and the unprecedented competition, it makes sense that RIM would continue to update its offerings with services such as BlackBerry Push.

Applications leveraging BlackBerry Push Service don’t have to compete with other applications that are receiving pushes. One application’s latest push won’t trump another application’s existing push -- users won’t miss their chance to see all the latest information available to them.

The BlackBerry Application Platform allows applications to run in the background and when new information is pushed to the device from the application server, that app "wakes up" and provides the content to the user, according to RIM. Because the app is not continually checking servers for new data, there is less battery drain, claims RIM, and a reduction in traffic on the application's servers.

BlackBerry Push Comes in Two Flavors

The BlackBerry Push Service offers two options: BlackBerry Push Essentials is a free service that developers can incorporate into their applications and allows them to push content to their customers. BlackBerry Push Plus, which has a free tier and paid tiers, provides developers with notification that their push has been delivered. If a content provider needs to get information to someone, he or she can tell if the target device has received the push.

For those who would like to see how it works, there’s a diagram on BlackBerry.com that provides a visual representation of the infrastructure behind the BlackBerry Push service.

Developers using the BlackBerry platform can visit the Push Service Web site for additional information, resources and tools. There’s no cost to register and evaluate this service. When a developer is ready to launch the service, he or she can choose BlackBerry Push Essentials or BlackBerry Push Plus, depending on the implemented features and number of pushes.

The push service is the latest news to come from RIM, which recently introduced the free BlackBerry Enterprise Server Express and updated the BlackBerry OS to version 5.0 late last year.


developer, Blackberry, RIM, BlackBerry OS, BlackBerry Apps