Mixed Messages From BlackBerry in Keeping BlackBerry 7 Around

While BlackBerry Jam Asia was all about BlackBerry 10, the company recently launched a BlackBerry phone running the legacy BlackBerry 7 system. The 9720 is a low end device aimed at the fast growing markets in Asia. Why launch an outdated model instead of making the BlackBerry 10 platform available on a low end device?

Despite its push towards BlackBerry 10, the company will be also be sticking to BlackBerry 7 at least for the time being. During Jam Asia, there were talks of the 9720 being the last BlackBerry 7 device but company executives have yet to publicly make that decision at this point.

For developers, “there is still a lucrative market for BlackBerry 7″, BlackBerry VP of Handheld Applications and Tools Christopher Smith said in an interview with Indonesian media in Hong Kong. The company, Smith said, “is not moving away from BlackBerry 7 platform yet, there’s still a lot of applications built for BlackBerry 7″.

Smith’s statement is supported by Adrian Faull, Regional Managing Director for Southeast Asia, Australia, and New Zealand, who said, “we will continue to have the BlackBerry 7 device which has launched recently. Our strategy hasn’t changed”. While BlackBerry recently launched the 9720 for the Indian market, it has yet to confirm when the device will be launched in Indonesia, although we’re hearing it’s October 1.

Because the company is still supporting BlackBerry 7, Smith suggests that developers who wish to target that demographic take advantage of the Cascade and Webworks tools as it will allow apps to work and display correctly on devices running either BlackBerry 7 or BlackBerry 10. These tools will also correctly arrange the layout and display of apps when deployed on BlackBerry 10 devices with different screen sizes including the recently launched 5-inch Z30.

“Webworks will help developers to target all BlackBerry platforms with a smooth transition plan. With Cascade we make it easy for developers to take advantage of the new platform”, said Smith.

Alec Saunders, VP Developer Relations echoed the same position regarding BlackBerry 7. “Developers making apps of BlackBerry 7 require less and less support from BlackBerry for their apps but there are still many BlackBerry 7 devices in the market and we continue to accept apps made for BlackBerry 7″.

There are currently over 128,000 apps for BlackBerry 7 and over 131,000 apps for BlackBerry 10. “You can probably say the development for BlackBerry 7 apps has accelerated. The number of apps have doubled since last year”, Saunders admitted.

This actually presents a dilemma for BlackBerry. When you’re introducing a new platform to replace your outdated one, it’s only natural to expect people to begin to shift to the new one. What happens when they don’t?

Apparently you say, “we’re going to aim for the enterprise and the prosumer market and to do that we’re canceling our mass consumer products. By the way, our previous high end model is now our new low end device, but we’re keeping the old stuff around anyway”.

Say what?

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