RIM opens second BlackBerry apps lab in SA, further boosts entrepreneurship

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RIM recently opened its second BlackBerry apps lab in South Africa, this time in Cape Town, and hopes to both accelerate mobile apps development for its own platform and to create new job opportunities in the mobile space.

The app economy is real and with RIM estimating four percent more revenue per app/per month than iOS and about 40% more revenue than Android, the BlackBerry platform appears attractive, especially in emerging markets where the smartphone maker has managed to weather its transition to BlackBerry 10 better.

The first apps lab was launched at the University of Pretoria (UP), a BlackBerry Authorised Academic Centre, in May this year.

“Cape Town is a key innovation hub, and a natural site for RIM’s second BlackBerry apps lab in South Africa,” said Alexandra Zagury, MD for South Africa and Southern Africa at RIM. “We are now looking forward to fostering mobile innovation in the Western Cape and helping to grow South Africa’s next wave of mobile app developers. Our investment in this lab is a signal of our commitment to supporting South Africa’s thriving BlackBerry developer ecosystem.”

The labs provide local developers, including students, startups, entrepreneurs and others, with access to resources in development, marketing, sales and training to help them expand their ideas and business opportunities. The labs support the larger context and objectives of the South African Department of Communications’ (DOC) eSkills Institute.

“RIM has eliminated the cost that my startup company would have incurred by providing resources such as the latest BlackBerry devices for testing and high performance development machines,” explains one UP student and developer Blessing Mahlalela.

Fellow UP student, Leon van Dyk added: “My programming abilities for the BlackBerry platform have increased monumentally – and so has my interests in mobile development as a career choice.”

RIM will work with developers at the Cape Town lab to create local and regionally relevant applications for BlackBerry smartphones and the BlackBerry PlayBook, as well as for devices running the upcoming BlackBerry 10 platform. The initiative is expected to help create locally relevant apps, new skills and job opportunities for graduates, and new revenue streams for developers.

The BlackBerry apps labs form part of RIM’s developer programme in Africa and includes facilities in key innovation hubs in Nigeria, Kenya, and Egypt. RIM has been working with 118 universities, colleges and schools across Africa through the BlackBerry Academic Program to provide institutions with course materials and content to teach and educate students on mobile application development.

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