updated 02:10 pm EST, Mon November 9, 2009
BlackBerry gets OpenGL ES, micropay, more
RIM opened up the BlackBerry Developers Conference by revealing the first modern 3D support for its smartphones. Those using a new Java SDK for BlackBerry OS 5.0 can now use OpenGL ES graphics and produce games or other 3D apps with contemporary effects. The SDK is currently in beta but should be available today.
The Canadian smartphone designer also touts better support for the developers themselves and will now let them more easily integrate paid ads into apps to subsidize its costs as well as to take micropayments for articles, add-ons and other content beyond the original app. Interface creation is now simpler as developers can now use Adobe Flash and other Creative Suite apps to build software for BlackBerries, while the Java plugin for Eclipse now has a GUI builder to streamline making interfaces.
Gaming support comes at a critical time for RIM. The company has struggled to grow BlackBerry App World since its launch in April and at last report was estimated to have just a few thousand apps where Apple's App Store has passed 100,000 apps in under 1.5 years of access. Some of the shortfall has come from RIM's inability to promote the BlackBerry as a significant games platform where such apps form one of the most popular app categories for the iPhone. RIM has also insisted that any paid app must cost at least $3, deterring developers from releasing 99-cent or $2 apps that are much more prevalent on Apple's platform.