With the RIM Playbook release just around the corner, RIM is hoping to get some apps in the App World before its release. A developer of iOS and Android apps thought he'd give it a go, especially since he lives near the RIM Waterloo campus. To say the process is counterintuitive or not at all straightforward though is a bit of an understatement.Developer Jamie Murai wrote and open letter chronicling his adventure in getting started on the development process for the forthcoming tablet. The first roadblock was the price. While the price is free right now to register with the Blackberry App World, it will soon be $200 and that buys you ten slots in the App World for publishing. Every additional ten apps after that are an additional $200. That is pretty steep. As Jamie notes, Google charges $25 for unlimited publications in the Android Market and Apple charges $99 for unlimited apps in the App Store. It appears Apple and Android are wanting a low barrier to entry and plan on making their money on commissions, not directly from developers. Even though Google and Apple make no money directly off of free apps, there is an indirect benefit to having the application count in their stores skyrocket - it is used as a marketing tool which drives the sales of more devices, which in turn drives sales of accessories, paid apps and more. $200 for ten apps is really not where RIM wants to be given it is the underdog when it comes to tablets.
The registration process would be funny if it weren't so frustrating. You get to register not once but three times for App World if Playbook development is your thing. First, the registration for App World itself, which makes sense, except for the part where you have to send in a notarized statement validating your identity. Yes, you read that correctly. Print off the form, fill it in, have it notarized, for a fee of course, and send it to RIM.
Once past that, you have to download the Adobe AIR SDK, the Playbook SDK and Playbook simulator. These aren't one nice download either, but three separated downloads. When downloading the Playbook SDK, you have to go through another registration process, entering again much of the personal information already entered in the App World registration. Finally, when downloading the Playbook simulator, you get to enter your personal information a third time. Makes you wonder if the US military has anything to do with this as they always like things done in triplicate, at least according to Radar.
Now with everything downloaded, getting started, everything should be a snap, right? Wrong. The AIR SDK has no installer, the Playbook simulator requires that you download VMWare Fusion, which costs $80 to register and the simulator from RIM is an ISO file wrapped in an installer for some reason, just to make the process more fun.
You get the idea. At this point, development still cannot begin, but I'll let you read Mr. Murai's adventures for yourself to see how the story continues.
RIM has seen the open letter and responded. In fairness, the development process is in beta, but some of this stuff is a bit much to foist on a developer community they are trying to encourage to fill their store. It never should have made it to the public in this condition.