Will deals with Adobe, Microsoft, and Facebook help save BlackBerry?

Will deals with Adobe, Microsoft, and Facebook help save BlackBerry?

Summary: With its tablet platform on hold waiting for more apps and its smartphone platform on hold until its next-gen operating system is ready, Research in Motion primarily used its opening keynote at BlackBerry World 2011 in Orlando to play up three big partners who are pledging long-term support for BlackBerry smartphones -- Adobe, Microsoft, and Facebook.

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With its tablet platform on hold waiting for more apps and its smartphone platform on hold until its next-gen operating system is ready, Research in Motion primarily used its opening keynote at BlackBerry World 2011 in Orlando to play up three big partners who are pledging long-term support for BlackBerry smartphones -- Adobe, Microsoft, and Facebook.

Adobe and RIM talked about the hard work their teams did to produce a "flawless" Flash experience -- and it is definitely one of the best features of the PlayBook and superior to the Flash implementation on Android. Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen said, "We're really impressed, frankly, at what the teams have been able to do together. Flash Player on the PlayBook truly allows consumers to take advantage of rich Web content."

However, the most important thing Adobe talked about was what it is doing to help RIM bring more apps to the PlayBook. Narayen revealed that most of the 3,000 tablet apps in BlackBerry App World are built on Adobe AIR and he announced that Adobe Creative Suite 5.5 was launching on Tuesday and that it natively includes tools for building Adobe AIR apps for the PlayBook using Flash Builder. He also stated that Adobe plans to bring their "creative applications" to the PlayBook. I think we can safely assume that includes a tablet version of Photoshop, similar to what Adobe has already done for the iPad.

Next, RIM co-CEO Mike Lazaridis surprised the crowd by bringing Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer on stage. There was a momentary tension that swept through the crowd as everyone seemed to be wondering if Microsoft was buying RIM or if RIM was going to start loading Windows Phone 7 on its BlackBerry devices like Nokia has decided to do.

Ballmer quickly put those fears to rest when he said, "We're going to invest uniquely in the BlackBerry platform, in addition to our own platform... Effective today, Bing will become the official search and map application for BlackBerry."

Ballmer watches Bing demo at BlackBerry World 2011. Photo credit: Jason Hiner

After talking up Bing's capabilities and showing a corny video, Ballmer stressed that the future will bring a lot more cool stuff with Bing on BlackBerry including augmented reality services (combining visual search, GPS, and mapping) that will respect privacy and security.

"We're super committed to innovate with Bing and BlackBerry," Ballmer said.

After stating this was his first trip to BlackBerry World -- the conference is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year -- Ballmer closed by saying, "We'll be back." That makes it sound like RIM and Microsoft have signed a multi-year agreement.

Because of his high-energy antics, Ballmer can be tough act to follow, but after him RIM brought out Facebook's vice president of global marketing solutions Carolyn Everson and she surprisingly wowed the crowd with some great anecdotes about Facebook, a visionary message about where Facebook is heading, and a vote of confidence in BlackBerry as one of its key mobile partners.

Everson, who left a top sales job at Microsoft to come to Facebook, explained how Facebook puts "Social by Design" stickers on everything at Facebook, including desks, walls, and laptops in order to remind all of the employees to put users and social features at the forefront of their work at all times. She told a story of how this philosophy bore fruit when two interns decided that Facebook needed its own photo-sharing element and built the feature in 24 hours. It didn't have hardly any features but it allowed users to tag their friends in the photos. It took off like wildfire and eventually made Facebook the No. 1 photo-sharing site on the planet.

Everson explains Facebook's principles of social design. Photo credit: Jason Hiner

According to Everson, another motto of Facebook is that "This journey is 1% finished," which speaks to the fact that Facebook sees the social networking revolution as still in its earliest infancy, with a ton of exciting innovation to come.

Everson stressed that mobile is the next great frontier, and that it will overtake PCs in the next two years as the most important computing platform. "I can't overestimate the importance of mobile," she said.

Nevertheless, Facebook hasn't done much to enhance its mobile experience. The Facebook app for the PlayBook is Facebook's first tablet app. Everson told the audience that it was a three-way collaboration between Facebook, RIM, and Adobe (the app was built using AIR).

"We're extremely bullish about our partnership with BlackBerry," she said. But, she also added that Facebook is "moving to a consistency across our platforms and [is] a big supporter of HTML5." In other words, don't expect tablet exclusivity on BlackBerry for long, and Facebook would ultimately prefer to build Web apps rather than a specific app for each platform.

While signing up these three partners is an important move that shows RIM is courting big developers and cutting the right deals, there's a lot more work that needs to be done -- for both smartphones and tablets. For the PlayBook, the one partner that RIM needs to double-down on immediately is Amazon. The PlayBook desperately needs a Kindle app, and an Amazon CloudPlayer app would be a big bonus as well.

More from BlackBerry World

This was originally published on TechRepublic.

Topics: Mobility, Browser, Hardware, BlackBerry, Wi-Fi

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37 comments
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  • Save BlackBerry?

    Save BlackBerry from their continued 50% growth year-on-year?
    gwalachmai
    • RE: Will deals with Adobe, Microsoft, and Facebook help save BlackBerry?

      @gwalachmai ....Yeah...are these guys bias or what?
      rubenb@...
      • RE: Will deals with Adobe, Microsoft, and Facebook help save BlackBerry?

        @rubenb@...

        Yeah ZDNET is pro-Apple.
        Rob.sharp
    • Save BlackBerry from getting shuffled to the back

      @gwalachmai While RIM is still making decent money from enterprise and international sales, BlackBerry is sailing into some serious headwinds. Companies are buying fewer devices and simply supporting more employee-owned devices. That hurts RIM. Plus, we keep hearing about companies and executives dumping BlackBerry for other devices. We're not hearing about BlackBerry picking up many new customers. That's why their recent sales were down and that's why it's hard to be bullish on BlackBerry right now.
      jasonhiner
    • RE: Will deals with Adobe, Microsoft, and Facebook help save BlackBerry?

      A clear formula:
      inferior phone + inferior search = success?
      tomdwright
  • RE: Will deals with Adobe, Microsoft, and Facebook help save BlackBerry?

    I don't doubt that RIM can make a flash experience that works. I just think the weaning-off of flash that is going on in the Internet is an altogether good thing for developers and consumers. I'd rather go with web standards.
    nickswift498
    • RE: Will deals with Adobe, Microsoft, and Facebook help save BlackBerry?

      @nickswift498 If standards were to rule the day then apps would not be the hot ticket they are. We'd all just be firing up web browsers. If anything we are moving away from standards to closed platforms with apps that just used the internet as plumbing for data transfer.
      southlander
      • RE: Will deals with Adobe, Microsoft, and Facebook help save BlackBerry?

        @southlander It might seem like that right now because of the popularity of Apple's closed mobile platform, but I don't see how that situtation is expected to last. Individual apps for every tiny function have to eventually give way to some sort of web standard and even Apple might not be able to stop it, or do it without hurting themselves.
        JRonin
      • RE: Will deals with Adobe, Microsoft, and Facebook help save BlackBerry?

        Hi @JRonin,

        Alex from RIM here. PlayBook supports the full web. Flash is definitely important since half of the top 17,000 websites are Flash-based (according to data from Alexa, Quantcast and the Fortune 500) so we?ve baked Adobe Flash 10.1 right into the fabric of the PlayBook?s design. Support for HTML5, CSS and JavaScript round out the full web experience.

        This video does a nice job showing what the PlayBook can do: http://bbry.lv/liStVx.

        Cheers,
        Alex, RIM Social Media Team
        alexkinsella
    • RE: Will deals with Adobe, Microsoft, and Facebook help save BlackBerry?

      @nickswift498

      Agreed HTML5 will be the future but the question remains...Can web standards adapt to change as quickly as Adobe Flash?
      Rob.sharp
  • RE: Will deals with Adobe, Microsoft, and Facebook help save BlackBerry?

    I think the Adobe partnership is the most significant. The Adobe experience is better then even most PCs. The Air based apps are very smooth and well designed. I think that a successful Playbook does as much for Adobe as it does for RIM. If 10% of BB users get a Playbook this year, it will be a huge boost for both companies.
    sharkboyjohn
  • A more interesting question

    Can the deals do anything for WP7 and MS?
    Economister
    • RE: Will deals with Adobe, Microsoft, and Facebook help save BlackBerry?

      @Economister

      MS is expanding their mobile presence across the board. If you see MS in some way on a majority of phones users will eventually buy into the fact that MS is a major mobile player. This will likely lead to increased sales of WP7.
      Rob.sharp
  • RE: Will deals with Adobe, Microsoft, and Facebook help save BlackBerry?

    Great. Now can RIM get Adobe to create a decent PDF reader?
    KJQ
    • RE: Will deals with Adobe, Microsoft, and Facebook help save BlackBerry?

      @KJQ That's right!! My wife and I are at the end of our contract with Verizon and our Storm 9530s will end up in trash....after I run over them with my car. RIM is constantly shooting themselves in the foot.
      jamesds1
      • RE: Will deals with Adobe, Microsoft, and Facebook help save BlackBerry?

        @jamesds1 Instead of throwing away a very good phone, why not send it to me? I could use a good world phone while in Asia..
        ldselder
  • The author might want to get the names of RIM co-Ceos straight

    they are Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis
    don.fleet
  • Get android apps to work on all balckberry phones

    Get android apps to work on all balckberry phones
    Ascendent
  • RE: Will deals with Adobe, Microsoft, and Facebook help save BlackBerry?

    For the enterprise business community there are no doubts and no questions but in the ZD net world they only see Apples. Asmall world for small perspectives.
    primartcloud
    • RE: Will deals with Adobe, Microsoft, and Facebook help save BlackBerry?

      @primartcloud

      Very true. Apple and the I-Anything is boring the crap out of me! Can we focus on the real players?
      Rob.sharp