Slacker Radio

Quick Facts

  • BlackBerry® users account for 15% of Slacker Radio's active mobile listeners but 30% of its paid mobile subscribers
  • Attributes much of its success on BlackBerry platform to long-lasting working relationships with Research In Motion® (RIM®)
  • Created app using HTML5 and BlackBerry® WebWorks™ framework by reusing existing online services

BlackBerry Developer Success Story - Slacker Radio

More than four years ago, Daniel Baird and the Slacker team started looking into mobile development for Slacker Radio® Inc. (Slacker Radio), a leading online music streaming service in the North American market. Opting to work with RIM and the BlackBerry platform first, Daniel developed what is now an immensely popular mobile app that is preloaded on BlackBerry smartphones and BlackBerry® PlayBook® tablets in North America.

Daniel, the creator and lead engineer of Slacker Radio for BlackBerry, spoke to us about how important the relationship between RIM and Slacker has been and why he enjoys working with BlackBerry WebWorks developer tools.

View details in BlackBerry World

Q: How important has it been for you to build such a long-lasting and close relationship with RIM?

Daniel: BlackBerry was the first platform that we started working with and we've been a solid partner from the very beginning of the relationship. It was a win-win, since it showed people that we were on mobile devices and it helped legitimize the BlackBerry smartphone as an entertainment device, not just business.

Also, the relationship has really been helpful in getting things done. Being able to email or call when a problem arises and have the team at RIM respond quickly has been absolutely fantastic. It's always been a relationship based on the basic questions of ‘What can we do for RIM?’ and ‘What can RIM do for us?’. We have been loaded on BlackBerry smartphones shipped in North America and most recently Slacker Radio has been factory-loaded onto all BlackBerry PlayBook tablets, which has created another solid distribution channel for us.

Q: Do you have any practical examples of how this relationship has helped you?

Daniel: When RIM was in the very beginning stages of launching the BlackBerry PlayBook, they contacted us about being a launch partner. We wanted to highlight the fact that the user had an uncompromised web experience, but because we didn't have a lot of time we were just going to load the website with an icon and let the website do its thing, since we knew the BlackBerry PlayBook would support Adobe® Flash®.

We had also been working on some HTML5 stuff that we weren't planning on launching, but RIM wanted a touch-optimized experience, so we were able to create a chromeless browser instance that loaded our HTML5 application in a browser. I got some special help to do a quick Adobe® AIR® packager around it to make it work, even though it was just a browser shell. That was what we launched with for the initial BlackBerry PlayBook release, until BlackBerry WebWorks became available.

Q: Why do you find WebWorks such a simple tool to work with?

Daniel: Virtually anyone who has a website can write a WebWorks app. If you want to get fancy there are some cool things you can do with JavaScript, but with WebWorks all you really need is basic web knowledge. While a huge user base exists for writing WebWorks apps, something like Objective C or C++ is much more specialized. When WebWorks became available for the BlackBerry PlayBook app, all I had to do was take the app I had written, put it into the Adobe AIR packager and out popped a bar file. It was really easy.

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