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BBC News and BBC iPlayer web icons arrive on BlackBerry PlayBook

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Abigail Khanna Abigail Khanna | 14:00 UK time, Tuesday, 19 July 2011

The BBC’s Director of Future Media, Ralph Rivera, spoke at a BBC Online industry event last month, and again during a keynote at last week’s Intellect Annual Conference about the strategy for BBC Online: one service, ten products, four screens.  We’re excited about the emergence of a post-PC world and opportunities to reach audiences on whatever ‘piece of glass’ they choose. 

To this end, I’m pleased to announce today the launch of BBC News and BBC iPlayer web icons (shortcuts) on the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet. From today, all new BlackBerry PlayBook tablets will come with the web icons pre-installed. Existing users will be presented with a software update notification on their status ribbon or can access the update at any time from the Software Updates item in the Settings Menu. The addition of these web icons provides more convenient access to BBC News and a wealth of BBC programmes on demand. 

tablet screenshot with a dozen software icons, including BBC News and iPlayer

The BBC aims to make its content available as widely as possible. In the BBC Future Media Business Development team where I work we’re constantly forging relationships with industry to deliver greater value for money for licence-fee payers, by repurposing BBC Online products for the widest range of devices we can. These partnerships have already enabled delivery of versions of the BBC News application for Apple and Android devices, and a version of the BBC iPlayer app for Apple’s iPad and Android mobile and tablet devices.

The BBC News shortcut will link to the desktop version of the BBC News website, and the BBC iPlayer shortcut will link to a browser optimised for portable devices. The growth rate in tablets is outstripping that of PCs so we’re pleased to be able to bring these products to a wider tablet audience.

Lastly, many of you will have already used the shortcuts we developed for BlackBerry smartphones last year. We’ve had to roll these back because of technical issues; we’re currently investigating these issues and will re-introduce the shortcuts when resolved.

Abigail Khanna is Senior Business Development Manager, BBC Future Media


  • Comment number 1.

    I’m interested why the BBC doesn’t have a place for implementers to do all this without BBC assistance? All they need is a dev site with access to BBC graphics, web site URLs, preferred strings, and that’s all.

  • Comment number 2.

    I'm confused: how do you "launch" a shortcut? Surely this took about 30 seconds to code and most people who want it will already have bookmarked it?

    From the title, I at least expected to see a special new "BB"-styled icon. You may be keen to "bring these products to a wider tablet audience" (perhaps by not forcing people to use Flash when you already provide compatible alternatives), but a web-link can't seriously be considered worthy of its own blog post, can it?

  • Comment number 3.


    You might find the BBC Trust consultation on syndication offers a partial answer. Their provisional conclusions advocated an aggregated strategy in which the BBC tries to ensure prominence and a public service context.

  • Comment number 4.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 5.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 6.

    I had a quick look at the syndication policies... and while the Beeb's position is understandable, I would like to add a couple of questions/suggestions to go on any wishlist.

    It would appear that Adobe are no longer providing AIR for Linux - http://www.zdnet.co.uk/blogs/jacks-blog-10017212/adobe-drops-air-for-linux-due-to-lack-of-interest-10022732/ ...
    and therefore, Linux iPlayer users are now streaming-only. You are, however, hampered by the SWF Verfication logic which is not publicly defined in released specs. If the BBC were to possibly back off the DRM just enough to let Gnash (open-source Flash) run the iPlayer client, it would allow non-Intel users in, as Adobe don't provide builds for every architecture out there. It might even be possible for Gnash to be rolled out to Android 1.6 phones etc...

    The Beeb still develop and support the Flash app - just that some of the *substrate* isn't there for certain chipsets. Let the open-source devs help you.... win-win.

  • Comment number 7.

    Related to this - there is an open-source app out there - CuteTube - which acts as a Maemo-Hildon client to Youtube... (I use it on a Nokia N900). I also believe it uses the Flash streams from Youtube - just the low-res version. Now.. if a shim were to be made available so 3rd-party devs could write open streaming-only clients...

    Just a thought...

  • Comment number 8.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 9.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 10.

    Thank you for your comments.

    Alex, this is about the Blackberry shortcuts, so although your suggestion is interesting, it is off-topic.

    Eponymous and Shades846, as your comments are both off-topic and a repeat of comments you have made before, I have moderated them.

  • Comment number 11.

    Ian, apologies for that - but if you'd humour me... I was trying to think more widely rather than *just* the Blackberry clients, as the multi-client nature is IMHO on-topic.

    Just that while the reach is extended to yet another closed platform... other users like those on Motorola chipsets or 64-bit OS builds... or older ARM chipsets... are still frustrated...

    Could you at least have a word with the iPlayer devs and get the idea on the maintenance list? You'll receive a lot less bad press that way.

  • Comment number 12.

    @10 Ian McDonald

    Your article states:

    ***"These partnerships have already enabled delivery of versions of the BBC News application for Apple and Android devices, and a version of the BBC iPlayer app for Apple’s iPad and Android mobile and tablet devices."***

    It is somewhat disingenuous to mention something in an article, then rule comments that question those items as "off topic".

  • Comment number 13.


    Yes, I shall send your Gnash suggestion (with the details in your comments) to the iPlayer team.

  • Comment number 14.

    Thanks Ian - could that change be recommended for the lightweight news playout client and Radioplayer as well while you're at it?

  • Comment number 15.

    Oh - thinking about that - Ian - could you recommend that iPlayer devs keep an eye on Lightspark? http://sourceforge.net/projects/lightspark/
    It;s an alternative to Adobe Flash - seems to be picking up where Gnash left off...

  • Comment number 16.

    Ian - further to my comments about Gnash/Lightspark, here's a thread on talk.maemo.org where the devs are working on getting Flash 10.1 content (like iPlayer's) to play out using hardware acceleration on the N900 using Gnash.

    Might interest them...

  • Comment number 17.

    For the record - I've got TweakFlash running on my N900 - and iPlayer content has behaved more and more over the time.... (useful in being able to report 10.x), although having to select the popout - then close the error window as it opens 2 is a little annoying. If the Beeb could let the open-source community develop a Hildon front-end... a la CuteTube.. might go some way...

    Seems as though the devs looking at Gnash etc are using that as a reference... as well as latest Flash from Adobe...

  • Comment number 18.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 19.

    I was just wondering why the BBCi player App for ipad, currently being tested for the global market, has an option to 'download' as well as a much larger library than the ipad app we have in the UK?
    I realise that the App has to be payed for in other countries, but does our Tv licence fee not count as payment?
    Are these options going to be rolled out for the UK in the near future? I take it that the Blackberry Playbook App will also have a download function and more varied/larger back catalogue to choose from as well?
    I think it would be wise of the iplayer team to offer these services in the UK as- 1: the BBCiplayer for ipad just does not work over 3G here!(or very shakily at best!).
    2: A lot of other countries have a much larger network of hotspots as well as much wider coverage for 3G. So if ANY country needs the download option, it most definately would be the UK.
    And i hesitate to repeat myself, but haven't we here already payed for it!?

  • Comment number 20.


    Thank you for the comment, but this post is about weblinks on Blackberry.

    Also, the "iPlayer" you are referring to is the global iPlayer. This is entirely separate to the UK iPlayer, and is run by the BBC's commercial arm "BBC Worldwide". As Luke Bradley-Jones blogged over at BBC Worldwide:

    Aside from its name, look and feel, the commercial global BBC iPlayer shares very little with its wonderful cousin, the UK BBC iPlayer ... The global BBC iPlayer is a very different proposition, for a different audience: the underlying technology and subscription business model are different, the rights are acquired on a territory by territory basis, and above all its content is different
  • Comment number 21.


    Thanks for the reply. I now understand the difference between the "Global iplayer" and the "UK iplayer".

    The "Global iplayer" has features and services on it that we would all want to have i.e Download, offline support, large catalogue of classic BBC shows.

    The "UK iplayer" has NONE of these features that we would really like to have.

    How about this, think of a business model that would work in the UK to offer the same services as "Global iplayer".....(not a 'business' person so i took a shot in the dark with that suggestion :-)), the territory is "the UK" (where the BBC is based) so you shouldnt really get much argument from anyone. And as far as the "underlying Technology" goes, maybe someone could explain why the BBC cannot stream programmes over 3G to the ipad in the UK, when 'Channel 4 OD' seems to have no problem? 'ITVplayer' has no problem?
    True, they dont allow downloading either,but importantly ,theyre not offering it to other countries whilst passing the UK off with @Businessbabble and throw away soundbytes.

    Also, i got the point about "subscription business model", its a subscription service? right? But it wasnt anyones subscriptions that payed for classics like 'Fawlty Towers' or 'Only fools and Horses' to be written, produced and broadcast, except the licence fee paying UK public. So why arent they available on the 'UK iplayer' ..?

    It really is another case of,'You'll what you're given and be thankful for it'. would'nt you say?

  • Comment number 22.

    Lets hope it’s better than the BBC’s token gesture to support the huge android owner base. The iPlayer app for android is worthless I’ve left it installed just incase the bbc ever give it enough functionality to be useful.

    A mobile app that only works when you are on wifi from streaming is next to useless BBC don’t waste your time until you support recording to watch off line. DRM is not an excuse it’s fully possible to use your own player and store the content encrypted, also anyone with an old fashioned VHS can record your programs the old fashioned way and that doesn’t seem to phase you.

  • Comment number 23.

    This post is still about weblinks on Blackberry.

    Your technical questions are off-topic for this post, but similar to questions from the open post that I'm looking into.

    The exploitation of BBC content on the licence-fee payer's behalf by BBC Worldwide is entirely off topic.

    Sorry, but more off-topic comments will be moderated.

  • Comment number 24.

    Hello all
    As Ian's away at the moment the iPlayer team asked me to update you on the shortcuts for Blackberry. Here's what they said:

    “UPDATE: as mentioned in the post above, we’ve been working on some fixes for BBC News and BBC Sport shortcuts for Blackberry smartphones 5.0 and above. The shortcuts for mobile have just been re-introduced into Blackberry AppWorld.”


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