BlackBerry DevCon Asia 2011 - Asia's Big Show

Highlights of BlackBerry DevCon Asia 2011

Highlights of BlackBerry DevCon Asia 2011

Asia's a market that's brimming with potential for a company like RIM, having already tasted great success with Indonesia where the company's BlackBerry smartphones took the country by storm, turning the BlackBerry into something more akin to social glue than mere smartphone. However, RIM also understands that the future of the smartphone doesn't just lie in bringing better, faster and more advanced models to the market year after year, but also in the software and applications that drive those devices. Over the course of two short days in mid-January on the idyllic shores of Bali, Indonesia, RIM brought together Asia's developer communities by hosting the first ever BlackBerry DevCon Asia.

What follows are some of the key highlights of the opening keynote, and on the following page, a quick pictorial hands-on of RIM's tablet contender, the BlackBerry Playbook.

Gregory Wade, managing director for RIM Southeast Asia takes the stage for his keynote speech, occasionally whipping out the company's much-talked about PlayBook tablet to snatch a quick glance at his presentation notes.

Kicking off the 2-day event was a keynote speech by Gregory Wade, managing director for RIM Southeast Asia, who highlighted that the growth potential for smartphones in the region also means major opportunities for BlackBerry developers, hence RIM's decision to host Asia's very own BlackBerry DevCon for the very first time. 

Today, there are more than 55 million global subscriber accounts for BlackBerry devices, with RIM's BlackBerry Messaging service leading the way as the world's largest mobile social network.

Some essential numbers on the BlackBerry community in general.

Asia is a hotbed of opportunity for BlackBerry developers, or so the numbers appear to say.

 Wade also touched on the Super App, a term originally coined by RIM Co-CEO and Founder Mike Lazaridis, saying that users should expect a slew of Super Apps to lead the charge into the future of smartphones, offering seamless integration with native and third-party apps in a manner not only proactive and notification-driven, but also highly contextualized and connected.

We'll be hearing a great deal more about Super Apps from RIM in the months to come.

RIM also took the opportunity to announce their WebWorks architecture, which is aimed at enabling developers to build applications for their upcoming PlayBook tablet, with a framework and APIs designed with both the web and mobile web in mind. One advantage is that apps written for BlackBerry smartphones will be able to work with the PlayBook and vice-versa, with some minor modifications needed depending on the underlying device capabilities. Furthermore, all HTML5, CSS and Javascript code should retain compatibility, making this a very attractive platform for developers with skills in web technologies.

To help developers build apps optimized for the PlayBook, RIM also announced the BlackBerry WebWorks SDK.

An overview of WebWorks' architecture.

BlackBerry App World by the numbers.

RIM is also looking to take their popular BBM functionality even further, with the ultimate goal of turning BBM into a social platform. Develoeprs can build apps that provide additional functionality to BBM, for example, or simply to include BBM chat into their apps. The possibilities are endless, and limited only to the ingenuity of the developers and apps in question.

RIM is also looking at heavy BBM integration to bring their BlackBerry app experience to the next level.

The BlackBerry Application Platform also gets an update to version 6.1.

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