When Research In Motion announced a Waterloo Region stop on its BlackBerry 10 Jam World Tour for Aug. 23, developers snapped up all 200 tickets in five hours.

When RIM found a bigger space and released another 100 tickets, they sold out, too – such is the buzz around the all-new BB10 platform that will debut early next year.

If you missed out, no worries – the tour continues on to San Jose, Calif. from Sept. 25-27.

This morning at the Communitech Hub, I bumped into Alex Kinsella, who blogs, codes, loves tacos, enjoys beer and manages social media for RIM’s developer relations team. It was a good chance to check in on how the world tour has been going, and what #BB10jam means to Waterloo Region and RIM.

Q – What happened when RIM announced a BB10 Jam World Tour stop in Waterloo Region?

A – When we first found out about it within the office, we were all really excited.

Back in May, when we announced the BlackBerry 10 Jam World Tour, we really wanted to bring it to Waterloo, but obviously we have developers all over the world, so a lot of the larger cities got it.

Then they came through and said ‘we’re adding Waterloo to the list,’ and we all cheered.

The great thing was, when we launched the registration page, it sold out within five hours. We were able to add space and then it sold out again.

So, just to see that demand from the developer community in K-W to want to come to this is really great.

Q – What does that tell you?

A – It tells me one thing, first and foremost: There are a lot of developers in this region.

It’s something that we’ve always known. You look at everything from RIM to Desire2Learn to Google to all the startups; anything from TribeHR, the team at the Apps Factory, UW VeloCity, the programs out of Laurier – I mean, it’s great to see this region thrive like that.

It also shows that they want to see what BlackBerry 10 has to offer in the ecosystem space. Obviously there are a lot of players in the game, but what can BlackBerry 10 add?

Q – How has the world tour been going so far?

A – It’s been amazing. We’ve sold out in most of the cities.

Every stop that we did in Asia-Pacific sold out, London sold out, Germany sold out, Poland sold out. We’ve done a couple in the States, and then in Canada we did Toronto and Montreal and both sold out.

The Montreal one was great because it was right next to Startup Fest.

The coverage has been really great as far as people tweeting about it, and now seeing people submitting their apps after they get the tools. A lot of the developers received BlackBerry 10 Dev Alphas, so now they’re out there actually testing their apps on these devices and seeing what they can do, and we’re starting to see the apps come into BlackBerry App World.

Q – How much has RIM’s relationship with developers changed in the past year or so?

A – It’s been a year now since Alec Saunders joined us as VP of Developer Relations, and I’ve seen a change in it, and I think a lot of developers have, too.

It’s changing the way that we interact with developers; everything from making the tooling easier to download and making it easier to use, so we’ve simplified a lot of that.

Then we have our developer relations team that manages all our forums and the blog and our Twitter account and is doing developer outreach, and our developer evangelists who are showing up at hackathons around the world, bringing BlackBerry 10 Dev Alphas and BlackBerry PlayBooks and going out and talking to Android developer groups. They’re saying, ‘Hey, you’re building Android apps; here’s an opportunity you have in BlackBerry App World to increase the market distribution of your application’, and there’s little to no cost for them to do this.

There’s no cost associated with submitting your app into App World and there’s no cost for the tooling.

We just had a post about PineLake Communications taking an Android game they had, and it took them 20 minutes to port it to PlayBook, and they’ve increased their distribution 25 times over what they could do in Google Play.

Q – Does that mean Android apps are going to be just as easy to port to BlackBerry 10?

A – Yes, it’s the exact same process. In fact, most of the time, if you’ve ported your app over for PlayBook, it’ll run on BlackBerry 10 now.

Some of it’s just a difference in screen size and the usual stuff, but the majority of them that I’ve seen that I have on my PlayBook also run on my BlackBerry 10 Dev Alpha device, and I haven’t run into any issues with that.

We really go out there and we push Native development; Cascades and gaming, and we push WebWorks or HTML5 platforms and PhoneGap, and it’s perfect for BlackBerry 10 and for PlayBook. Then we look at Android and the rationale behind it, and it’s a way for Android shops or developers to get their feet wet into BlackBerry.

So, the tooling is there, it’s easy to use, you can port your app over and see how it will do in BlackBerry App World. Then you can kind of make that decision and say, ‘Okay, I’m doing x amount of downloads or purchases on BlackBerry; if I ported my app over into Native or if I rebuilt it in HTML5, what advantages of the BlackBerry platform could I take to take my app to the next level?’ But, if you still just want to port it and get extra downloads or extra purchases, it’s there for you.

Q – What do you say to the doubters?

A – It’s amazing, the doubt. If you look at the actual facts, the reality of the situation is that we’re in a position where we need to come out with a new, updated platform, and that’s what BlackBerry 10 is.

We looked at what iOS does and looked at what Android does, and really, they’re great for content consumption – watching videos, going through people’s Pinterest stuff, things like that.

Where BlackBerry excels – and this is a personal statement – BlackBerry is the best communication device out there. Nothing does e-mail, BBM, texting even; nothing does communication like a BlackBerry.

BlackBerry 10 is all that magic of communication – keeping in contact, getting things done – with the ability not just to consume that content through a larger screen, faster processor and more memory, but also the ability to create that content and then share it.

So, this is taking what you know of the smartphone today and really evolving it to the next level.

When people doubt, I’m like, ‘Listen, we’ve got no debt, we’re making money, we’ve got 78 million subscribers, we’ve got 55 million BBM users, we’re in a good state.’

We’re not in the same shape as a Palm or a Nortel or a Nokia, for that matter. We’re in a totally different financial situation, where we actually have the resources we need to deliver BlackBerry 10 and deliver an amazing experience.

About The Author

Anthony Reinhart
Director, Editorial Strategy

Anthony Reinhart is a veteran journalist who left the Globe and Mail to join Communitech in 2011. Tony has covered everything from crime, politics and courts to business, the arts and sports, and his writing has won numerous journalism awards. He is Communitech's Director of Editorial Strategy and senior staff writer.