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RIM: What's all the 'bleeding' fuss about BlackBerry developers?

Denies that app hackers are fleeing the platform

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Alec Saunders, RIM's VP of developer relations, wishes the press and analyst community would get its "bleeding" story straight about the BlackBerry developer community.

On Friday, AllThingsD reported on a study by Baird Equity Research that showed BlackBerry developer loyalty at an all-time low and trending downward, claiming the company was "bleeding developers." Saunders quickly shot back with a blog post disputing the claims.

"I was shocked because the numbers in the report do not gel with what we're seeing in the real world," Saunders writes. "The report contradicts much of what we are seeing and hearing in our developer community."

According to Saunders, RIM's developer events are well attended, and the number of vendors using BlackBerry App World, RIM's app store, has grown 157 per cent in the last year.

"The other thing I hear consistently is that RIM simply treats developers better than anyone else in the mobile industry," Saunders writes, adding that developers have been giving enthusiastic feedback on RIM's new developer tools for BlackBerry 10.

Playing defense in public forums is getting to be a habit for RIM. Earlier this month, RIM CEO Thorsten Heins took to Canadian radio to deny that the company was in "a death spiral."

To be fair, the original Baird Equity report doesn't exactly predict a mass exodus from the BlackBerry platform – not now, anyway.

"We believe that many developers who planned to jump ship have already made the move," the report reads, "leaving a BlackBerry developer base that is smaller but increasingly loyal."

Whether that loyalty will pay off is questionable. RIM recently announced that BlackBerry App World has served up 3 billion downloads since it launched in 2009. By comparison, Apple's iTunes App Store had managed 10 billion downloads in the same amount of time, and its current figure is closer to 30 billion.

In the long run, however, the success of BlackBerry 10 depends largely on when customers will be able to get their hands on the devices.

In June, RIM announced it would delay releasing the platform until next year, the second time it has pushed back its launch date. If it delays any more, stanching the flow of developers may be the least of its worries. ®

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