You may have read recently about BlackBerry CEO John Chen’s pitch to include “App Neutrality” as part of Net Neutrality. The idea with App Neutrality is that every application should be built and released on every single platform available, making the market much more “fair” to other smartphones and devices running other operating systems. Since this is a seldom pursued approach to the Net Neutrality debate, we thought we’d ask some experts in the field, as well as some of our own Envoceans, what their thoughts were on the idea. As you will see from their responses, there weren’t many fans...
Apps take time and money to develop. Right now, companies get to pick and choose where they want to spend their time and money on application development. The application/content neutrality pitch sounds pretty far fetched. I could see his point more if Netflix was specifically blocking access to their service on BlackBerries (e.g. You open up an internet browser on a BlackBerry and Netflix.com says "Nope, we don’t like Blackberry. Use a phone we like."), but that's not what is going on here. An application doesn't exist for the BlackBerry OS because Netflix made a business decision not to build it. I believe it is their right to make that decision.
– Travis Overmier, Software Developer at Envoc
Nonsense! For the obvious, if BlackBerry would like mobile apps to be ported to their platform, then the easiest way to achieve this is for them to pay developers for that, like they have been doing previously. But mandating it, via law, doesn’t make any sense for anybody, especially for economical reasons. It is true and ironic that, once an app is deployed to iOS and Android, deploying it to BlackBerry or Windows Phone doesn’t take that much of an effort, especially to the big apps. However, the fact remains that the BlackBerry 10 platform didn’t grow their user base and in the end, that’s the bottom line whether to proceed or not with development and further deployment.
– Joanan Hernandez, Founder of Mollejuo
App neutrality would require developers to put in considerably more development and testing time to make sure that the apps work on the BlackBerry, (as well as any Windows)—for very little in return (IDC states that Blackberry and Windows Phone combined held only 3.4% of SmartPhone OS market share.) Think of it this way: if app neutrality were applied to physical releases of films to the home market, movie studios would be required (by the federal government, no less) to release all films not only on Blu-ray and DVD formats, but also on HD-DVD, Betamax, VHS and Laser-Disc because to do otherwise would discriminate against the manufacturers of the devices for the latter formats.
– Jenson Crawford, Director of Software Engineering at CrowdIgnite
So there you have it. Our panel of responders doesn’t quite buy Mr. Chen’s view of App Neutrality. That said, there are always two sides to every pancake. Stay tuned for more opinions and soapboxes in our next issue of Envoceans and Notions.