Pledge 51

Quick Facts

  • Develops using BlackBerry® Java® Plug-in for Eclipse, BlackBerry® WebWorks™ & BlackBerry® Messenger (BBM™)
  • Access to a large and growing BlackBerry® smartphone user base in Nigeria
  • The 1999 Nigerian Constitution application has been downloaded more than 80,000 times

BlackBerry Developer Success Story - Pledge 51

For Zubair Abubakar, the co-founder of the Nigerian mobile media company Pledge 51, the development philosophy is simple: to use technology to impact lives and as a tool for social change. From his time in university doing web development work on Ghana's first-ever student elections portal to providing Nigerians with access to their 1999 Nigerian Constitution via one of the most downloaded BlackBerry applications built by a local developer. Zubair has used his development talent to help promote positive change through his BlackBerry applications.

Zubair, a Fellow at the Fate Institute of Venture Design in Lagos, Nigeria, spoke to us about why he thinks BlackBerry smartphones are so popular in Nigeria, and what makes for a successful app in the region. Zubair also discusses the benefits of working with BBM, the Java Plug-in for Eclipse and the BlackBerry WebWorks SDK.

Q: Tell us about the popularity of BlackBerry smartphones in Nigeria

Zubair: In my opinion, over the past few years, BlackBerry smartphones have become very accessible and affordable to many in Nigeria. I think that because of that the devices have become extremely popular, so much so that it's really surprising when you meet someone new and they don't have a BlackBerry PIN number to share.

Q: From a developer perspective, what is it like developing in Nigeria?

Zubair: The BlackBerry developer community in Nigeria is very small compared to the rather large BlackBerry user base here. I do believe that this situation has given the developers a huge advantage though. It has allowed us to collect feedback and ideas rather easily, which helps us understand what the market wants and build the apps according to their needs. Although, I have to say that, as developers we sometimes get lost in the euphoria of using cool and exciting tools and forget about the people that'll actually use the app.

Regardless, as a company we are excited to be able to establish ourselves early on in the market. In my opinion, Nigeria and the region are about to experience a huge growth in mobile application development, especially apps for BlackBerry devices that are locally built and address local issues.

Q: How significant of a feature is BBM?

Zubair: BBM is a fantastic social component to the BlackBerry platform and another huge reason I think that the devices sell so well in Nigeria. It's a cost-efficient and easy way for people to communicate and connect socially in real time. The ease of PING'ing a contact to chat right way is a big benefit not to mention the cost effectiveness to the user.

We are looking to integrate the BBM API's into future apps. The social functionality allows for users to easily share it amongst their friends and increase download numbers significantly.

Q: Can you tell us a bit about Pledge 51's most popular app?

Zubair: Our 1999 Nigerian Constitution app, launched last year before the Nigerian national elections, was successful because of the context around it and the timing. It was released when people did not have a lot of local BlackBerry smartphone apps to choose from, and it served a purpose for those who wanted to be better informed on their rights and freedoms, which helped with people's decisions during the election.

Building with a purpose, that's what fuels our passion to develop applications.

Q: Why do you enjoy working with BlackBerry development tools?

Zubair: Developing for BlackBerry devices has been a fun side project for me. I've used the BlackBerry Java Plug-in for Eclipse quite a bit, which has been straightforward and has also allowed me to use my previous J2ME® experience. It has also become more interesting and easy with the release of the BlackBerry WebWorks SDK and HTML5 support. Also, using the Ripple™ emulator tool, designers and developers can easily develop web apps and compile them into BlackBerry applications. All in all the tools have made for a very quick development time for each of my apps.


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