RIM co-CEO Mike Lazaridis briefly apologized for last week’s outage at RIM’s DevCon, then moved on to talk about his new BBX system.
SAN FRANCISCO (CNNMoney) – Research in Motion spent about 120 seconds of its developer conference discussing last week’s global outage – then made it clear that the company was moving forward.
“I want to touch on some recent news items,” said RIM co-CEO Mike Lazaridis during the opening of his keynote address on BlackBerry DevCon in San Francisco on Tuesday.
RIM (The BlackBerry service went down on October 10, triggering a crash that spread to millions of users around the world in what the company called its biggest network disruption on record. It took more than three days for the company to fully restore service.
“The global blackouts we have experienced this week were unfortunate. We are working to address them,” Lazaridis added. He reiterated a previous announcement that RIM offering $ 100 free apps BlackBerry users.
And with that, the word “failure” was never mentioned again.
Instead, as is often the case at developer conferences, Lazaridis and other RIM executives focused on optimistic news and new features. The biggest news: a new operating system called BBX.
New operating system: BBX is optimized for smartphones, tablets and other devices. It combines QNX, the system powering the PlayBook tablet, with the BlackBerry operating system that runs on RIM smartphones.
As Lazaridis said: “The whole company lines up behind one platform.”
But Lazaridis has not offered any timeframe for the start of delivery of BBX-powered smartphones. RIM’s smartphone sales have fallen short of expectations in recent quarters, and analysts are eager to see RIM make further progress on what it sees as an ongoing turnaround. In a call for results last month, ahead of the BBX name announcement, RIM executives said they planned to show off prototype BBX phones “in the not too distant future.”
Lazaridis and other RIM executives also spoke at length about HTML5. It is an emerging web standard which brings functions similar to those of a mobile application – video, offline playback, touch and gesture interaction – to traditional web browsers.
“[Developers] see it as the future, ”Lazaridis said, adding that 75% of BlackBerry developers polled by RIM said they plan to work with HTML5 in the future.
Applications: RIM swelled the developer crowd with some stats. BlackBerry has sold over 150 million devices worldwide, although it has only 70 million active users. Still, the number of active users has increased by 40% compared to last year.
Over one billion BlackBerry App World applications have been downloaded and over 140 million are downloaded per month. The next version of the PlayBook tablet will include a world of enterprise applications, where companies can make certain applications password protected or available only to their employees or customers.
BlackBerry developers make more money on their apps than they would if they developed for Apple (, Fortune 500) iOS or Google ( , Fortune 500) Android, Lazaridis said.
Alec Saunders, vice president of developer relations, spoke to “bust the myths” about the development of BlackBerry.
“Myth: BlackBerry developers can’t make money,” Saunders said. “13% of our developers made more than $ 100,000. Only 1% of iOS developers made more than $ 1,000. “
Developer reactions: The crowd at DevCon seemed to react well to RIM’s announcements, and many seemed optimistic about the company’s future despite its recent problems.
A young, bespectacled developer took offense to the idea that last week’s outage – and RIM’s multiple service disruptions over the past few years – could pull him away from BlackBerry.
“These systems are extremely complicated,” said the man, who only identified himself as an independent developer. “Things happen. People act like no one other than BlackBerry has ever had a problem, ever. It’s incredibly boring.”
A director of a “big international company” based abroad said his optimism had been shaken by the blackout, but he is not giving up on BlackBerry.
“We have a whole business that depends on its devices to function,” he said. “It’s worrying, but I always hope for the best in the future. And BlackBerry probably is too.”