RIM pushes HTML5 apps amid Canada user exodus

RIM has turned to courting HTML5-curious developers as a stopgap solution to slumping BlackBerry sales in Canada and elsewhere, arguing the case for universal webapps to counter coder apathy. BlackBerry marketshare in Canada – not RIM's biggest single market, but meaningful as it is the firm's home turf – has dipped below iPhone levels this week, hand in hand with decreasing levels of developer interest as BlackBerry 10's late 2012 launch looks unpalatably distant. That's prompted a charm offensive by RIM code champions, pushing HTML5 development as preferable to native code.

"Native will always be a couple of steps further [technically], but the web is absolutely competitive for the large majority of applications" BlackBerry Web Platform technical director Laurent Hasson told developers earlier this week at a London event, The Guardian reports. "An HTML5 application doesn't mean you don't have access to an app store, and it doesn't mean you don't have access to native APIs."

If RIM can succeed in convincing app producers that there are signifiant advantages to HTML5 rather than native code, it could potentially stem the flow away from BlackBerry to iOS and Android. While Rovio's snub of Windows Phone with Angry Birds Space has garnered more attention, BlackBerry users have also been left out of the new game. A web version would likely be platform-agnostic, however.

It's an argument that may gain some traction, though the extent to which RIM is a motivator is unclear. Research by Appcelerator and IDC found 79-percent of developers questioned plan to use HTML5 in their apps this year, PC World reports, either dedicated HTML5 titles or hybrids using both native and HTML5 code.

RIM needs to work fast, though. The research found that developers "very interested" in creating BlackBerry apps have dipped from 38-percent to 16-percent in the course of a year, while those keen to code for the PlayBook tablet have more than halved, from 28-percent to 11-percent.