by Al Sacco

BlackBerry MySpace App Breaks Download Record; Why No LinkedIn for BlackBerry?

Nov 21, 20083 mins
Enterprise Applications

Today, Research In Motion (RIM) announced that the new MySpace for BlackBerry application set first-week app-download-records for both the BlackBerry maker and the social networking giant. The popularity of mobile social networking apps like MySpace for BlackBerry, combined with the fact that the majority of BlackBerry users are businesspeople, begs the question: Why is there no native LinkedIn app for RIM smartphones?

Mockup of LinkedIn BlackBerry App
Mockup of LinkedIn BlackBerry App

LinkedIn is the most popular business-oriented social networking service, and though there’s an iPhone-specific LinkedIn application, there’s no such option for BlackBerry users. LinkedIn currently offers a mobile-optimized version of its website for any device with a WAP browser, but such options simply aren’t as convenient or functional as platform-specific apps. You often to need login to WAP-optimized sites every time you visit, and they’re not customized and therefore do not take advantage of features unique to mobile operating systems or devices.

Released only one week ago on November 13, people are putting the new MySpace for BlackBerry application to good use already: downloading the app more than 400,000 times during its first week of availability; sending and receiving some 15 million messages; and updating mood/status more than two million times, according to RIM.

Facebook for BlackBerry, released in October 2007, surpassed the 1 million download mark last April; it’s easily one of the most popular BlackBerry apps available.

I’ve been questioning the lack of a BlackBerry-specific LinkedIn app for some time, and just last week I posed the following question to my Twitter followers:

“Why is there no LinkedIn BlackBerry app?? That makes absolutely no sense. There’s Facebook and MySpace, but no LinkedIn app??”

I received a number of responses, but the one that really caught my eye came from fellow blogger Garrett Smith, who pens the Smith on VoIP blog. Smith’s response was as follows:

“LinkedIn isn’t flashy enough for developer to deal with. Platform developers are going where the $$$ is.”

And for the most part, I think Smith’s answer is dead on; right now, there’s not enough incentive for mobile developers to focus on boring ol’ LinkedIn for BlackBerry with so many, flashier options out there from “cooler” companies and services like Google, Flickr, Yelp, Pandora and so on.

But wait: According to comments on a spring 2008 post on The LinkedIn Blog, the company plans on delivering a native LinkedIn app for BlackBerry.

From Brandon Duncan, LinkedIn director of engineering, in a comment on The LinkedIn Blog:

“[T]he main reason we built an iphone optimized version before blackberry was simply because it the effort to implement an iphone version was much lower. From an engineering perspective we had the in-house expertise for iphone, and it’s really only about 4k worth of javascript that creates the iphone optimized version. Building the blackberry app would be significantly more complex. But as I mentioned before, we are planning on delivering such an app to our users.”

True, this was posted almost eight months ago, and there’s been no sign that such an app is on the horizon, but at least the good folks at LinkedIn are aware of the demand for such a BlackBerry app.

Duncan et al, please hear our pleas: Give us BlackBerry folk a native LinkedIn app. We’re your most loyal users and you’re treating us like second-class citizens. If you build it, we will download. You’ve got my word on that.