BBC Mobile Apps

The big news eminating from the BBC today is that they’re finally getting around to releasing some mobile applications.
That’s not entirely true: the BBC has previously released other applications, such as the iPlayer for various Nokia mobile phones. But notably, it hasn’t released any applications on the mobile daddy of them all – the iPhone.
As I understand it, this isn’t a reluctance on their part – I’m sure they were sitting by watching other media organisations put together some excellent applications and “steal a march”. I think this was more to do with the terms and conditions imposed by Apple and the BBC’s status under the Charter.
And then there’s the small matter of concern over users being landed with astronomical data bills because they watched last night’s Eastenders via 3G, and don’t have a good data package with their operator. I suspect that we’ll see stern warnings on-screen before you can embark on streaming over 3G.
Obviously those little local difficulties have been overcome, because as the BBC News site, the press office, the BBC Internet blog and Erik Huggers himself all announce today – apps are coming.
With the BBC not having done anything up until now, others have filled the void. A number of applications use BBC RSS feeds to serve up news and sports stories. Other applications gather together links to radio and television services – including the BBC’s – and are sold for profit.
So it certainly makes sense that the BBC does this itself.
And it’s pleasing to see that unlike some media outlets, the BBC understands that it needs to develop for platforms beyond the iPhone, including Blackberry and Android. Notably, S60 isn’t on that list. I don’t suppose that means it’s not being developed for, but it’s clear that despite a massive user base, it’s not a great development environment from what I can gather, and the variety of devices available for it can make coding for it problematic.
Anyway, having resolved that my next phone will be an Android device (HTC Desire – I have my eyes on you), I look forward to playing with these later in the year.