Today I read a tweet, that lead me to read a great blog post, that lead me to think once again about a subject that I’ve discussed once before. Although the subject of the blog post is “Who’s responsible for sales?”, when you read this just do a mental cut and paste and substitute the word “Evangelism” for “Sales”.
In a company with a core platform offering, the same “we’re all in this together” mentality is required to build, evangelize, sell and support your API to developers much earlier in the cycle than putting your product in the hands of your first customer. In many ways, if you don’t think about the developer community as customer number one, you’re probably going to have a hard time offering customer number two, the consumer, any sustained differentiation.
I’ve touched on this once before in a previous post, bottom line, if a platform orientation is critical to your product or business success, then everyone on your team, better yet, your whole company, is an Evangelist. While I’m an Evangelist all day, everyday, your whole firm needs to view developers as strategic partners, and your most important early audience and hence, treat each interaction with them as an opportunity to Evangelize. Who knows, they may like what they see and turn into the best Evangelists of your platform. This approach worked for us at BlackBerry, and I know if you’re committed, will also work for you.
In the run up to our launch in the USA, I suspect discussion of the number of Android titles in BlackBerry World will again surface. First a bit of history to frame my thoughts here.
Historically platform changes have always been a high risk/reward proposition, and the industry continues to exhibit behavior described by Geoffrey Moore in his classic Crossing the Chasm. Using Moore’s terms, to encourage “pragmatists” to adopt lead to creation of a two part platform introduction strategy. First, focus all evangelism on the new platform to attract the “early adopters” and secondly supply tools or a porting layer to enable a move from the incumbent platform to the new target to decrease risk for the “pragmatists”.
Does this work? Yes, over the many platform changes I’ve overseen on the PC use of porting tools/layers have been effective tactic, but I’ve not seen as an effective implementation and execution as we’ve done at BlackBerry. While the speculated number of Android ported apps in BlackBerry World grossly overshoots the actual numbers, what’s important is the number of “pragmatist” partners who used the porting layer to ship a BlackBerry 10 app for launch with minimal risk. Based on observed BB10 results/downloads these partners are now working on native BlackBerry 10 Cascades apps that fully integrate with the BlackBerry Hub, for them, the porting layer served it’s purpose. This is a textbook example of the platform change strategy in execution and over the coming months we’ll all enjoy this second wave of native BlackBerry 10 apps.