RIM Responds to BlackBerry PlayBook App Dev Gripes

At least one mobile app developer is crying foul over Research In Motion's process for publishing PlayBook apps, deeming it a cumbersome and costly protocol, but RIM responded saying it will make some adjustments, though was vague on whether or not the fees charged to programmers would change.


Developer Jamie Murai in an open letter to RIM takes issue with the steps required for creating mobile apps for the PlayBook, which he says involves downloading several SDKs and simulators, as well as third-party software that costs $80, to get started.


In addition, Murai also points out that the fees meted out by RIM to programmers wanting to sell PlayBook mobile apps at RIM's online store are more expensive that RIM's competitors.


RIM (NASDAQ: RIMM) charges $200 for developers to submit up to 10 apps, while Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) charges $100 and Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) charges $15 for unlimited submissions to their respective mobile app storefronts, according to Murai's blog post.


Finally, Murai, who had wanted to start creating apps for the PlayBook, the upcoming tablet PC from RIM, is irked by the company's request to have him provide a notarized statement of identification.


"You have succeeded in your quest of driving away a perfectly willing developer from your platform. On a more serious note, being the underdog, you need to make your process AT LEAST as simple as Apple’s or Google’s, if not more so. You need to make your tools AT LEAST as good as Apple’s or Google’s, if not more so. You have failed at both," writes Murai.


News of Murai's discontent comes at a time when RIM is preparing to launch the PlayBook amid a slew of newly announced Android-based tablets. RIM and makers of the Android devices are all in a race to catch the Apple's iPad -- both in terms of market share and in offering a sizable library of mobile apps for their respective devices.


The PlayBook will run a new mobile OS, based on QNX software and dubbed BlackBerry Tablet OS. ">


RIM's Tyler Lessard, head of the BlackBerry developer relations, responded to Murai in a blog post, by saying "Jamie’s post covered various topics, including the process for registering for downloads, managing the install and configuration procedures on a Mac, and using the simulator tools. The concerns he described were completely fair – in fact, they include some of the priority items that we’ve been working to improve prior to our final gold release."


But Lessard fell short of saying whether RIM would adjust the fees levied to programmers. "We are continuing to evolve this process and remain committed to ensuring developers can register and submit apps at no cost," he said, adding that RIM will also review the requirement to have a notarized form of identification.


RIM is preparing to introduce several models of the PlayBook, with an ambitious line up including 4G and Wi-Fi units.


But some analysts are concerned about the first version requiring the use of bridge software to connect the tablet to a BlackBerry handset for contact and calendar access and management.


Still, during a conference held recently in Boston, RIM executives defended the decision to use the bridge software connection between PlayBooks and BlackBerrys.