In Hong Kong, developers gathered together to see BlackBerry making an attempt to get them enthused about building applications with the clouds of withdrawal from consumer market and imminent sale hanging over them. The developers that were planning to attend the BlackBerry Jam Asia 2013 would not have wondered about what they would actually get to see there, but the question plaguing them would have been whether the event would actually take place when they arrived in Hong Kong. Even more interesting is the fact that even though a large number of people queued up for getting their free BlackBerry Alpha device at the conference entrance, but most of them were not developers.
However, this did not stop them from taking advantage of their new gadgets that came attached with the conference. Also, attending the conference was quite cheap. If people had registered before 30th August, all they had to pay was US$99. Even the regular rate was only US$149. Even the extremely optimistic developer cannot ignore the backdrop of the huge losses that the company is suffering from. The staff cuts and the impending potential sale are worse for the prospects of the company. Nonetheless, the most important of all was the announcement made by the company stating that it would be stepping out of the consumer market completely.
Groups of developers, on their way to the conference had joked that they would be arriving at an empty conference hall, but their collective gathering showed that maybe there was still a glimmer of hope left for the Canadian company. However, if these developers were expecting the Chief Executive of the company, Thorsten Heins to give them a pep talk, then they were thoroughly disappointed as he did not attend the conference. It is his job for restoring the struggling company to some of its former glory.
A BlackBerry spokesperson said that Mr. Heins was unable to attend as he was busy. BlackBerry Jam Asia 2013 was nothing like its host city, the busy and bustling Hong Kong. It was, simply put, a leisurely affair. At the most, the keynote hall was about two thirds full and there weren’t any queues or throngs for anything. A spokesperson of the company said that registrations had been made by about 1000 people, but couldn’t give an estimate to the actual turnout. Certainly, the developer presence was thin. There were two official BlackBerry stands for enterprise apps and gaming.
However, there were no other third-party stalls and the attendance in its technical sessions was sparse. Sina Weibo, the giant Chinese micro-blogging showed off its BlackBerry client and the SayIt voice recognition app, which is quite similar to Apple’s Siri was demonstrated by Nguyen Long. These were the two prominent showcases along with a handful of small ones. Nevertheless, the BlackBerry 10 platform of the company hasn’t managed to gain fire despite the monetary guarantees, free devices and even lowered barriers of entry. Early in the second day, the conference center was empty, an indication that there isn’t much left for the company.