The BlackBerry Developer Conference concluded yesterday, but not before Research in Motion had the chance to unveil enhancements to its BlackBerry Application Platform, which now supports OpenGL ES, a subset of the desktop graphics API specification for embedded systems. Useful for development of 3D games development and other graphics, it's standard equipment on phones based on Android and Symbian OS, and is among several of iPhone's graphics libraries.

RIM also announced the release of BlackBerry Theme Studio 5.0, a free suite of tools it says simplify the design of custom interfaces, illustrations and animations for devices running BlackBerry OS 4.2.2 or higher. The suite, which replaces the Plazmic Content Developer’s Kit, can import Photoshop files and includes access to a home screen layout, fonts, icons, message list colors, cursors and dialog boxes, the company said.SVG graphics can be created using BlackBerry Composer, for adding illustration and animation to buttons, backgrounds, web sites and BlackBerry apps. On devices running BlackBerry OS 5.0 and higher, developers also can add ringtones and transition between screens by zooming, sliding, wiping and fading.

Also this week in separate announcements, Research in Motion said it will add a Java GUI builder to its Eclipse-based development environment, announced the ability to use Adobe Flash and Creative Suite authoring tools to target BlackBerry devices, and unveiled new services slated for 2010 that will let applications be aware of their geographic location and push content accordingly. One might, for example, pop the question "Thirsty?" as devices pass a juice bar. Think of the treasure that Starbucks might be willing to bestow upon the developer of such an application.

About the Author

I am Technical Editor of the [url=]CRN Test Center[/url], a kind of computer-centric "Consumer Reports" for retailers and VARs ([url=][/url]). I bought my first computer in 1980, an Atari 800. In addition to adventure games like Zork, I also played with the hardware, dabbling with ROM dumps and mods to the 810 disk drive. That's also where I learned BASIC programming. After 1984, I moved to PCs, clones and NetWare, and then to Apple IIs and Macs until around 1990. In July of that year I got my first job at a publishing company, supporting about 25 Mac users (including the staff of "MacWeek").

Between '06 and '09 I was editor of [URL=]ST&P[/URL], a software testing trade magazine. I also wrote a software [URL=]Test & QA [/URL]newsletter, and was chairman of the [url=]Software Test & Performance conference[/url].

I'm on the verge of being a convert to mobile device fandom. Have always thought of phones as communication devices and nothing more. But something changed along the way. I think recognizing what a strong trend we have in miniaturization is on part. Strong growth in mobile sales is another. PCs and even Macs are aging and losing buzz. Where is all that going? I think it is going to mobile devices, which as a category is waaaaay back on the other younger side of the trend curve.
The iPhone seems to have captured the early buzz, but for me here in Madison, WI., the center of "flyoverdom" that is a good ten years behind everywhere else, I only know ONE guy with an iPhone. I know oodles of people with a Blackberry.

RIM seems to be working hard to make the developer side of things more robust. Right now, I don't see much of a market either for sellable RIM apps or for consulting to build corp RIM apps, but things seem to be changing quickly in that area. Interesting times.