BlackBerry has initiated a review of apps that were mistakenly rejected from its ‘Built for BlackBerry’ certification program after its head of developer relations responded to complaints and looked into the issue personally.
Alongside ‘Port-Athons‘ and its $10k Developer Commitment, the Built for BlackBerry initiative has been a key focus as the Canadian mobile maker aims to revitalize its brand with a strong content push. Learning from the fact that past devices have been criticized for a lack of quality apps, BlackBerry introduced the program to certify the best apps available for BlackBerry 10 to help developers and their creations compete for attention among users.
However, there has been controversy and “a great deal of contention… around the qualification process”, head of developer relations Alex Saunders writes in a blog post.
Saunders explains that BlackBerry has “seen feedback that many well-built, well designed apps are not qualifying for our Built for BlackBerry program”, in particular, feedback has suggested that a number of apps have been rejected after being mistakenly categorized as ‘single function’.
Given that the program showcases the best apps for BlackBerry, such simple, single function apps are not eligible for it, but it seems that reviewers have been hasty in categorizing some apps as being limited.
“I’ve looked at many of the apps, and I’ve seen that some of the apps that have been rejected have greater utility than the reviewer initially thought,” Saunders says, going to to explain that any app that apps which failed solely on being single function, will be re-assessed.
The changes will also see an appeals process instituted, allowing developers to respond to rejections with a message that will be sent to senior BlackBerry reviewers.
In addition, BlackBerry is improving dialogue with developers that have apps rejected, and it will be providing greater clarity of explanation behind the decisions. Although Saunders admits that this is a tricky position as, while BlackBerry wants to ensure quality, “one trap we don’t want to fall into is designing apps for our developers.”
Finally, the company will publish case studies to help demonstrate the kinds of apps and developers that can benefit from the program.
The 10k Developer Commitment — which sees BlackBerry guarantee all Build for BlackBerry apps will make $10,000 in annual revenue — begins on March 4, and the company says that those apps which are late to being approved due to this snafu will have their revenue retroactively tracked back to this date.
The honesty with which Saunders writes is refreshing. In an age when developers often feel isolated by Apple and Google, BlackBerry is pushing hard to be more collaborative and transparent. While that may help win developers’ trust to a point, ultimately the success of its BlackBerry 10 devices is key to capturing attention and encouraging more content on the platform.
BlackBerry 10 launched on January 30 with more than 70,000 apps in the BlackBerry World app store, although a sizable number lack native integration since they were ported from iOS and Android. The Port-Athon events forced the company to extend the deadlines for the program it received more than 34,000 app submissions across two weekend-long events.
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