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The news that there are now more than 65,000 apps available in the iPhone App Store is food for thought, particularly if (like me) you own one of the smartphones that is in the market of trying to compete with the iPhone. The post on Mashable also stated that more developers are starting to work on apps for Android.

Blackberry App World

However, as a Blackberry Storm user, I was very keen to find out how Blackberry’s App World is faring in this market (at least in terms of app numbers) – the answer is not well. Browsing through App World on my Storm, I counted (the number of apps in each category is helpfully listed) less than 1,400 apps – around 45 times less than what’s on offer in Apple’s App Store. The question is why such a disparity?

Yes Apple’s App Store has been around a lot longer, but it seems that there’s a big problem in user awareness and ease-of-use when it comes to getting hold of Blackberry’s App World. The App Store is a clear selling point for the iPhone, yet handsets like the Storm do not really focus on apps to market the device. In addition, where the iPhone comes with the App Store pre-loaded, the Storm required me to actively go and download App World from the Blackberry website (something which actually proved quite difficult on the handset itself, so I resorted doing it through my desktop).

Perhaps a concerted effort by Blackberry to offer App World pre-loaded on devices and to drive user awareness of this would see more developers looking to create Blackberry apps.

An opportunity for Blackberry could be in the business app arena, where Apple was recently criticised in a Business Week article for offering a poor selection of business apps. But, without increasing the prominence of App World, Blackberry will surely only fall further behind Apple in this market.

So, do you think there is any opportunity for Blackberry (or anyone else for that matter) to get anywhere near the iPhone in the app market?


  • Abid says

    Google’s Android app market has a big opportunity. In future there may be more people using phones running Google’s Android operating system (like t-mobile’s G1) than there are iPhone users. Google gives Android free to manufactures and lots of Android phones will be launched in the next 12 months. Developers will be attracted to any platform with a large enough user base.

    However, like you say, an app market will only be successful if it’s easy to use. Mobile apps have been around for years but never took off because it was difficult to buy apps and get them on to the phones.

    Apple’s app store has a much more seamless process, especially when purchasing apps using the iPhone itself, hence its success. A non-web-savvy relative of mine’s first ever online purchase was an app she bought on her iPhone. It reminds us how important usability is for business success.

    6 August 2009 at 11:21 pm

  • Stuart Johnston says

    Apple’s strength is its standardized platform. We have been looking into porting out app Igoshi to other platforms but variations in hardware for example screen size make it quite difficult to hit them all with the same underlying code. The return from app sales is small and the use of resources to build different binaries for each platform variation doesn’t make good business sense at the moment – unless you’re building with Widget Standards or web standards of course.

    Apple has embraced the idea of doing one simple thing and doing well even if the iPhone platform appears restrictive compared to other mobile platforms. The build and purchase processes are highly inclusive.

    Am enjoying the new blog by the way – well done :)

    11 August 2009 at 12:23 pm

  • Jon White says

    Interesting point Stuart. So it seems that most, aside from Apple, simply haven’t designed their platforms with apps in mind. Do you think this will need to change / will the app market grow big enough to force this change?

    Thanks for the feedback on the blog, much appreciated.

    11 August 2009 at 12:41 pm

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