RIM Australian MD Matthew Ball on how BB10 will change RIM's fate

One of the key elements of any new operating system is to have a good selection of applications in place. It's an area that RIM has been working hard at in the time its been developing BB10.

The new platform is set to launch with 70,000 apps right off the bat, with a view to expanding that number to 100,000 within six months.

In addition to the fundamental apps, RIM has been focussed on working with Australian developers to create relevant local apps for the Australian market, as well as working with corporate customers to help them develop useful software, according to Ball.

"From our perspective, the purpose is not a PR exercise to say we have 70,000 apps. The purpose of getting to that level is working really, really closely with these dev guys.

"The Dev Jam sessions that we've had have been such an intimate partnership events that we've had with our developers. Not with a view so that we can just get every app we possibly can, but let's really get the best apps out there," he said.

BB10 hands on camera

Also important is delivering a wide range of devices to the market. And the strength of the QNX-based BB10, according to Ball, is that it is scalable to different devices, which places RIM in an exceptionally strong position for growth.

"We have a pretty impressive roadmap coming out. If you take the conecpt of [BB10] and thought broadly about what could exist with that platform with other form factors or other environments or other ecosystems, the QNX platform that this was built off gives us a lot of possibility," he said.

"Don't get me wrong, we need to get BB10 and the devices right, big time. But the prospects of what that ecosystem can do are massive. The sort of stuff that we've seen today, imagine - without connecting the dots - imagine that in completely different form factors."

While that sounds good in theory, the Playbook is evidence that even the nicest hardware and sleek software doesn't guarantee sales. But for RIM, there is a longterm approach to the market, beginning with the first BB10 devices set to launch in Q1 next year.

"The other element of why our C-levels are currently in such good spirits is our most recent quarterly earnings position. In the last quarter we added an additional two million subscribers globally from all the different regions. We also added a reasonable chunk of cash to our cash in the bank, so we're now at $2.4 billion cash in the bank with zero debt," Ball explained.

"So in terms of what does that mean for us and what does that afford us? It gives us the space to make this successful, and it obviously gives us the space to continue [developing] what I've alluded to in that innovation line of mobile computing. Investing in that and making that real requires an investment, and we're in a position to do that," he added.


There's very much a sense that RIM is putting all its chips into the BB10 basket. If the platform doesn't work, that bank balance will disappear pretty quickly. But from early impressions of the operating system, the potential is definitely there for BlackBerry to make one of the biggest comebacks the tech world has ever seen. Ball knows this, as does the entire RIM company.

"The feedback we're getting from customers, analysts and carriers is that - make no doubt about it, we need to get this right, and operationally to get this right there's a lot to be done - but it certainly has the foundations to be very successful.

BB10 hands on peek

"It certainly feels like a very good time for us," he said.

"What we have in terms of a platform with our number of subscribers and our history and relationships to enterprise and consumer customers and also our carrier partners, there are sufficient elements of the ecosystem and platform that we believe will put us at an advantage over our competitors, at a longterm, sustainable advantage.

"It's not just a screen and a SIM card. It really is - and I know this an overused term - but it really is an ecosystem and platform play. It's all integrated, it all works together seamlessly."

Having spent the past decade editing some of Australia's leading technology publications, Nick's passion for the latest gadgetry is matched only by his love of watching Australia beat England in the rugby.