Now official: The new BlackBerry Bold (aka the BlackBerry 9000, aka the BlackBerry not-really-an-iPhone killer), which RIM will show off his week at its annual Wireless Enterprise Symposium in Orlando.
What else is on RIM’s (RIMM) agenda? A $150 million fund to invest in companies developing BlackBerry apps, with partners including RBC, Thomson Reuters, and JLA Ventures. This will compete with Apple’s (AAPL) $100 million “iFund” for iPhone app development and Google’s (GOOG) $10 million competition to entice people to develop apps for its upcoming Android platform.
The big difference: Unlike the iPhone and Android app platforms, which don’t commercially exist yet, companies have been coding and distributing BlackBerry apps for years. In other words, it’s one thing to offer some money to kick-start a brand new industry; it’s another thing to pool a bunch of money to fuel an existing industry.
At the end of March, Apple had sold 5.4 million iPhones; RIM sold 14 million BlackBerries during fiscal 2008, leading the U.S. smartphone market. So in theory, the BlackBerry software industry should be large, mature, healthy — and self-sustaining. Then why does RIM need to offer an incentive for coders to write for BlackBerry?
The most obvious conclusion: RIM is seriously worried about losing steam to Apple — whose iPhone apps looked damn good in their video demo in March — and Google, whose Android is unproven but will get a lot of attention when it launches later this year.
So, our query to mobile developers (or people who know them): Do you develop for BlackBerry now? Will you continue to? Or are the iPhone and Android platforms potentially more interesting/lucrative? Let us know in comments below.