Media headhunters’ view: Marmalade deal could spread Blackberry apps

There might finally be a chink of light for beleaguered RIM. Marmalade, the maker of software development kits, announced earlier today that it will offer licenses to mobile app developers looking to bring apps to Blackberry devices.

It can’t come too soon for RIM – that’s the view I and my media headhunter colleagues hold – which has seen both its revenues and share price take a hammering as consumers and enterprise customers switch to iPhone and Android devices in their droves. A three-day outage at the tail end of last year didn’t help, and nor has a string of uninspiring product launches such as its ill-fated Playbook tablet.

The first smartphones running its Blackberry 10 operating system are due to hit the market later this year and, simply put, Blackberry needs to be able to provide a shedload of apps if consumers are to even think about ditching their existing smartphones. Blackberry has lagged way behind iOS and Android in its range of apps and one problem has been the difficulty in programming for the devices. A developer friend of mine recently described programming for Blackberry as “a nightmare” and “barely worth the trouble”. RIM will need to hope that changes quickly, but the Marmalade deal should ease the way.