We'll be honest, we didn't really know what we were getting ourselves into when we headed to BlackBerry's SXSW event. Gone are the business-suited low key gatherings traditionally tied to trade shows. The smartphone maker is here to meet developers on their own turf, putting together a bumping house party with a backyard DJ and a velvet rope line up front. The event is certainly in line with the company's shift toward a larger lifestyle focus in its latest operating system, along with an attempt to deal with potential developers on their own level.
Tom Anderson, the company's Manager Developer Evangelists Team Americas is one of the individuals tasked with leading that charge -- a central focus if the operating system is going to turn around its fortunes. BlackBerry knows that better than anyone, hitting the pavement here at SXSW to convince developers of all sizes that they need to be a part of the operating system. It can certainly be an uphill battle, with a user base that pales in comparison to the iOSes ad Androids of the world -- and then there's the fact that the OS hasn't actually launched in the States yet.
Anderson seems to understand these difficulties as well as anyone, but feels confident that BlackBerry 10 offers up a unique enough experience to be a no-brainer for developers big and small. It's an experience unique enough to have convinced the former Microsoft employee to get back into the software game from his "time on the golf course." And despite the absence of some key apps (Instagram, for one, certainly springs to mind), the evangelist is convinced that amongst the available apps exist at least one one for every need.
At the very least, there's no question here that BlackBerry knows just how important app selection is the future of its company, and as such, has been working overtime to make developers a key focus, with a hundred or so members of its evangelist team.