I found this in my blog drafts from (May 21, 2010), and before Blackberry’s go the way of the dinosaur I thought I’d publish the piece.
At ADAM, my mobile software company, I’ve had the fortune of overseeing develoment across several major mobile platforms. We started initially developing on the iPhone 3G, moved to the 3GS and soon to the iPhone 4G. We’ve released our applications on to the Android platforms Cupcake, Donut, Eclair, and soon Froyo. We have even developed a basic version for mobile web.
Early on in the development of MyChamberApp a mobile chamber directory, we identified that the Blackberry platform had the most affinity for our target audience. The Blackberry rules in the small business world, smaller towns, and middle-america/east coasters still choose them over the fancier and pricier iPhone. We are seeing a bigger shift to the Android platform (notably the Droid’s marketing did very well for exposing the brand).
Our designs had been proven up on the iPhone and Android. Getting on the Blackberry required first isolating the several new screen designs.
1 – There are a mind-boggling number of Blackberry devices. If you strip out all out-dated Blackberry devices from their offering, and which lack built-in GPS capabilities you are left with seventeen models. Now, you could say “hey, Eric, Android has a bunch of devices too.”
2 – Each phone is tightly coupled with the service provider. Verizon locks out GPS capabilities unless you pay. AT&T hides a built-in map tool and “suggests” you download their AT&T Navigator. T-mobile seems to be the most open on allowing GPS/LBS.
3 – Because there are a TON of Blackberry devices, you require either a single design that can expand and contract depending on the multitude of screen dimensions. At last count we have 4 distinct designs for (320×240, 480×320, 480×360, and 360×480). As more devices are released (Playbook even) each phone will require testing.
Ironically, the issues experienced here are very similar to the Android fragmentation problem.