Smartphone apps - is the battle over before it's begun?

by Jon White on 6 August 2009

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 Worldis 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 aBusiness 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?

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