28 Comments

Summary:

Well, right away, “App World” doesn’t win any points in the name category. It sounds like a bargain basement retailer of remainder App Store stock. What it actually is, though, is BlackBerry’s new application store, the details of which were just unveiled last night. Perhaps not […]

app-worldWell, right away, “App World” doesn’t win any points in the name category. It sounds like a bargain basement retailer of remainder App Store stock. What it actually is, though, is BlackBerry’s new application store, the details of which were just unveiled last night. Perhaps not coincidentally, they announced their official plans on the same day the iPhone Developer’s SDK celebrates its one-year anniversary.

So should Apple take warning and batten down the hatches? You would think that the biggest fish in the smartphone pond getting into the direct download application game would be enough to rattle anyone. Let’s look at the details and see if there isn’t something to be afraid of.

Devices and Locations

Device support for App World will extend only to those handsets running BlackBerry OS 4.2 or higher, with either a trackball or the Storm’s touchscreen. The application portal will also initially be available only in the U.S. and Canada, and will support only English at launch, although plans to add other languages are in place.

Broad device support is a big win for BlackBerry, since their apps will then be available to a wider market of buyers using any recent BlackBerry hardware. Apple’s iPhone sales are growing, but it’s hard to compete in turns of market coverage when your opponent is giving away Pearls and Curves at the low end of the spectrum. The many devices advantage will be initially hurt by the lack of international support, but BlackBerry is probably ready to roll that out pretty quickly as long as the initial launch proves profitable. I don’t think it’s a “can’t do” thing, more like a “won’t do” until we’re sure it’ll make us money.

Available Memory

A big downside of App World is that BlackBerry users will only be able to download as many apps as fit in internal memory, which on most BlackBerry devices, is paltry. 256MB in the new BlackBerry Curve 8900. You can’t even buy a 256MB flash drive anymore, can you? It’s a problem G1 owners ran into, and it’ll be a problem for BlackBerry, too. Apps can’t be installed to memory cards, in case you were wondering. Apple may get knocked occasionally for lacking expandable memory on their iPhone, but at least the ample space they do provide is usable.

Pricing

BlackBerry is getting a lot of attention for their pricing structure, which is laid out nicely over at our sister site jkOnTheRun. The key figure there is the starting price of $2.99. That means a serious lack of 99 cent fart and noisemaking apps. Look at the Top 25 Paid Apps list on your iPhone or iPod touch, if you have one. How many of those apps cost 99 cents? Say what you will about Apple’s pricing, it’s a big reason for the success of their model.

On the other hand, BlackBerry’s $2.99 entry point will hopefully discourage a lot of the throwaway apps that clutter up Apple’s store. They know that they still cater mostly to enterprise customers, and I’m sure they want to keep the selection geared towards that side of things, or at least towards the kind of apps that professionals can take home with them and use after work…which is unlikely to be a $2.99 shotgun noise simulator.

Gaming

Games will probably end up being the most significant measure of comparison in terms of revenue generation, since they represent so many of Apple’s top sellers. I don’t see BlackBerry going for a “Funnest BlackBerry Ever” angle, or trying to compete with the DS and PSP, but stranger things have happened. More likely they’re looking to offer utilities as an incentive to sell handsets, and not trying to mimic the success of the App Store as a serious revenue-generating venture.

So in the end, I don’t think it’s necessarily fair to pit the two head-to-head against each other, unless BlackBerry has some unexpected hardware moves up its sleeve in the future that put it on par with the iPhone as an entertainment and gaming device. We’ll see what happens, but I don’t think App World will be able to take the wind out of the App Store’ sails.

You’re subscribed! If you like, you can update your settings

  1. Blackberry: Pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeese, give me a break.

  2. The available memory is what gets me. I know several people who are “anti-Mac” and bash Mac products, especially the iPhone, constantly. My brother-in-law raves about how his G-1 is better than my iPhone and some of my coworkers are all about Blackberry. I had a Berry, I know what it’s all about. I added one, count, ONE application on it (Facebook) and it would freeze all the time. Having to do a battery-pull (even with no apps installed) every other day was too much for me to take, so I dumped it for the iPhone. Never been happier with a smart phone since. I seriously don’t understand the people who rant and rave that their Berry/Palm/G-1 device is better than the iPhone. iPhone has thousands of apps available for a nominal price and doesn’t need expanded memory to use them (not like that’s an option on these other phones anyway). App World won’t do damage to App Store at all. Not even a little.

  3. .99 apps are actually smart from a marketing and sales point of view. It means as a consumer it’s very easy for me to decide to purchase an app that is so cheap and that I’ll hardly feel any pain for buying. Where as once I start getting into 2.99 and 5.99 apps I have to give some thought on whether I want to start throwing my money around.

  4. They should have named it mega-lo-mart or buy-more to score some pop culture reference points.

  5. What a losing scenario for an app store Blackberry has.
    1. Create smartphones which do not have enough memory to have more than a few apps.
    2. Prevent storage of apps in storage cards.
    3. Price apps high enough to discourage impulse sales – and sales, period.

    Written on my iPhone at lunch with one of my 140+ apps.

  6. I think Blackberry might try to do some games, but I don’t think it will work. They don’t seem to get the consumer market at all yet. Their consumer product (as differentiated from their corporate stuff) is the Storm which universally sucks. they also have brand recognition, a cool name, and tons of opportunities to promote it, but they have failed on every turn so far.

    They send out mixed messages and don’t really know what they are doing when they try to do consumer level stuff. Like, instead of going for “friendly” and building on the Blackberry name, they pick “Bold” and “Storm” for their new product names? These sound like military operations or corporate project names, not consumer products. They are like schizophrenics right now, trying to move into consumer space to protect against iPhone intrusions, but not really doing it right.

  7. Tukang Nggame Thursday, March 5, 2009

    blackbery always has a good look design, I like it.

  8. The apps go from free to $2.99. So what if someone wants to write an app and only charge $.99? What’s that all about?

    I have a co-worker who has a BB Storm. They should change it from BB to BFD. It’s not even close to the iPhone. Never will be.

  9. I have been using Blackberry for 4+ years now. It certainly is a great tool for my emails. Extremely reliable, especially handling my corporate emails along with gmails, yahoo mails it is great.

    I do two apps that are reliable, gmail & google map.

    But as for web browing, lets face it, Blackberry is totally useless. It is the most unreliable tool for web browsing. Often it locks up, I have to remove battery and put it back to get web access again. I just avoid web access.

    Now installing other apps, I am very skeptical how the apps will behave. If it cannot do the basic items, why bother with more apps.

    My spouse does have a iPhone. I wish I could dump my BB for iPhone, but I need my corporate email, and BB is the king on that, and my corporation does not support iPhone. So for now, I will stick with BB, but no app and no web :-(

  10. They should have called it Buy-n-Large. While BB’s rep is as a business phone, its marketing has all been consumer and family oriented.

    I’m not sure about “broad market support”. Do you know how many handsets qualify as BB OS 4.2 capable? How many have trackballs or are Storms? I thought there were only 25M BBs out there. You take away all those scrollwheels, and how many do you have left? How many different screen sizes do you have? The iPhone and iPod touch market is now easily over 23M. That’s 4M iPhones in 07, 13M in 08, and 2+M so far in 09. And, there are easily 4+M iPod touches out there, for a total of over 23M iPhones and touches that pretty much have the same specs. I’m pretty sure BB does not have any combination of handsets with virtually the same specs so that a developer can write one app, without having to customize it, that amounts to over 23M.

Comments have been disabled for this post