CrackBerry Poll: How Do You Like Theme World So Far?

By Kevin Michaluk on 9 Dec 2009 02:09 pm EST

ThemeWorld, ThemeWorld, Party Time, Excellent!!

With BlackBerry themes just starting to appear in BlackBerry App World this week maybe it's a little too soon to be running this poll, but honestly, I just couldn't help myself. I want to know what everybody out there thinks. When I opened up App World on my Bold 9700 this morning and found that 8 of the 9 featured items were themes and that themes are already starting to populate the top free and paid downloads categories, I got a bit frustrated. Then when I went to the App World catalog's new page (image above), I found only three new apps out of 102 new additions: 88 themes in the themes category, three apps in the Sports and Recreation Category and then nine more themes in the Entertainment category, which were placed into the Personalization subcategory though I'm guessing their more appropriate location should have been the themes category. One of the things I really like about App World is that it has made it easy for BlackBerry users to find apps. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love themes, and think it's great for BlackBerry users out there that themes now be part of App World -- there's nothing like a cool new theme to freshen up your BlackBerry user experience -- but do think RIM's implementation of themes within the App World offering may need to be addressed sooner rather than later. More thoughts and poll questions below!

I know from first hand experience (our CrackBerry App Store) that introducing themes into the mix with apps can be a little overwhelming and a little confusing for those browsing. Themes technically are not applications, but for both the CrackBerry App Store and now BlackBerry App World they get treated as if they were one and the same. Theme developers can and do pump out new themes like crazy, which tends to clog up the "new apps" feed making it more difficult to find apps in a sea of themes. And Hot new themes can attract a lot of attention and drive a lot of downloads, which means when you treat an app the same as a theme they begin to compete against apps for those coveted rankings on top download/most popular channels. In a perfect BlackBerry app store world, I've always personally felt that breaking apart themes from apps is the more appropriate solution. That doesn't mean themes should be hidden. On the contrary. Themes are uber-popular and in any BlackBerry app store environment need to receive their fair share of real estate so that BlackBerry owners who want them can easily find them and that those who don't even know about themes can discover just how awesome they can be. I just think that from both a browsing experience and stats tracking/ranking experience, it would be better to separate them. 

I also know from first-hand experience that from a backend database management point of view this isn't necessarily an easy problem to solve, especially when themes are being introduced into the mix after apps have already been around for a while. In the case of our CrackBerry App Store (powered for us by Mobihand), improvements have been made to address this historical problem. For example, a few months back we improved the BlackBerry themes category so that instead of it being treated just like another app category it has more in-depth info (best selling themes, new themes, updated themes, etc.). We also introduced the CrackBerry Theme Store client which features just BlackBerry themes. But at the same time, the lingering issue (if it you consider it to be an issue) is that in the main app store you still see themes intermixed and treated the same as apps. Now while this may not be the ideal solution from my personal point of view, I think our typical CrackBerry reader/customer is pretty savvy and deals with this quite well and by now is simply used to it. There's always room for improvement, but it works.

From my observations, it seems that with RIM's introduction of themes into App World they're going to face these same sorts of issues which we have experienced (I already see the issues, and App World's theme catalogue is still small), but worse. I know for me personally it has already killed the App World experience. And remember, I'm a theme lover. There's a lot of people out there who don't like themes or simply won't buy themes (or download free ones for that matter), so I would assume their reaction would be even less favorable than mine. Maybe instead of combining themes and apps together RIM could add an icon into the application beside Categories called themes, which when clicked duplicates App World within the app but treats it as Theme World (featured themes at the top, with theme categories, top free themes, top paid themes, etc. below).

I think there must be a win-win App World design solution to be had that's favorable for both theme developers and app developers, where instead of competing they're more peacefully co-existing side by side, both attracting a ton of eyeballs and downloads/sales still, but in a way that makes for a more friendly and targeted browsing experience. I'd really be curious to hear from some BlackBerry app developers if their daily downloads/sales have dropped as a result of the introduction of themes to App World. My educated guess is that they have, at least for some vendors. For example, if you had an app in the top 25 that now got pushed off the list by a theme entering the 25, your app's downloads would surely drop. But with proper segmentation, you'd be able to have both that app and that same theme get the same (or more) amount of downloads/sales in a day, instead of one cutting into the other. Leaving that theme off the Top 25 Apps list but then having a Top 25 Themes list would likely result in better download/purchase stats.

That's my take on it anyways, with some rough ideas for alternatives. Maybe I'm seeing an issue where one doesn't exist and I'm the only one who thinks there's room to improve it. I just want to see the best solution for all stakeholders in the BlackBerry ecosystem (device owners, theme developers and app developers, etc.). So with that, feel free to express your thoughts on the subject with the poll questions I've set up below or leave a comment and let me know if you agree with me or if I'm on crack(berry). And with all this talk about themes, I think I'm going to go right now and find me a nice new one for the holidays!

CrackBerry Theme World Poll Questions

Reader comments

CrackBerry Poll: How Do You Like Theme World So Far?


anyone who would pay real money to get fancy colours on their phone needs to get their head checked. are you serious about life? what a waste of money and kilobytes.

the implementation of themes in App World..quite frankly some of the themes in App World are over priced beyond the "standard" of $6.99 which for a good theme is reasonable.

It's great to see developers have another avenue to sell their themes and all, but I already see problems with the process. Growing pains? Maybe, but hopefully RIM will see and address the problems before they get out of hand.

i downloaded a theme, but it wasnt even 5.0 compatible because when i turned my storm to landscape, it had the white bars on the side.

i really need to go to writing school. if i was any good i could have written this novel in half the words and saved everybody reading it at least 4 minutes of their life. lol.

at least i have passion... can't fault me on that! :)

Your post is just fine. I do hope they seperate out the ranking system. There are a few quirks I have with App World (no detailed information on compability for one).

I agree with Kevin, I find it extremely frustrating that the themes have taken over appworld. It should be called themeworld now. Most of the featured items and top items are now themes! I hate that!
Themes should be in app world, but only if they are in a complete separate section and not in the featured items, or top free/paid sections.

I used to be a theme junkie but a week or so before I got my 9700 I went back to the standard theme on the 9000 and realized how simple it is and how much I like it. I'm going the same thing on the 9700. Don't get me wrong I love themes but realized they are a lot of fluff when it comes down to it.

Don't like the themes in App World. There are plenty of sites you can go to for themes. Let App World be for "apps."

Furthermore, I am tired of buying themes only to have them not work correctly, not display like I want them to, etc, and you are stuck.

Just free themes for me fromo now on.

As a theme developer this is really quite amazing. The amount of potential customers just grew by millions. MobiHand and shop.crackberry are great and all, probably actually an easier process too, but only the blackberry lovers know about them. Almost every blackberry owner at least knows about App World.

This is the best thing that could have happened to a Theme developer.

I am with you 100% There are a lot of casual users out there and they are the people who usually want themes. They are also the people who don't get into the BlackBerry world as much and won't ever find the other outlets for our themes. This is awesome for us as developers, especially after being laid off from the regular job this year.

I do agree with others though, the proportion of themes that have taken over the featured apps is excessive. They should limit featured apps by categories to have a good variety represented.

They also need to remove the "free for now" apps from the top free list. If it's a temporary demo, it really shouldn't be considered free.

Overall, we need to realize the majority of BlackBerry users are not techno-geeks like the rest of us. They just want a smart phone that works and looks good.

Okie, I don't know if I'm just really a newbie (which I am) but new themes confuse the crap outta me. I have things neatly tucked away in folders, then when I install a new theme, I have to hunt for what I'm need because it mixes things up! Is there a way around this? Am I doing something wrong? I don't have the time to constantly rearrange things when I install a new theme. Help?

I know this has been Discussed a ton and not really on topic, But RIM just released the new Theme Builder and DID not allow us the ability to transfer default settings of our previous theme to the new one. I HATE changing themes for the sole purpose of going through Folder creation, placing, hiding, etc. There have been only a few themes that I will go through that process with and I didn't see many on Appworld. And why doesn't RIM make any themes? Did I miss them or what?

My old BB had 4 themes on it!! None on S1 or S2

Is it just me or are all the themes kinda lame? I'm a huge fan of many themes on crackberry, but not so much on App world yet. Maybe the good ones are coming!?!

I would pay at most $0.99 for a theme and it would have to be one officially made by RIM. Not some 3rd party buggy phone theme that could ruin my settings.

Most of the themes that come out look TOYISH and UNPROFESSIONAL. I like the stock theme as it's uncluttered and there's not much to it, no bugs, simple, and easy on the eyes. I wish all themes were like the ones provided.

Hello my name is Wayne Drescher Jr from WJD Designs. I have worked with many affiliates such as the Mobihand network, which is what CrackBerry App Store uses for their applications and themes. I also have just started being a theme provider in BlackBerry App World and notice there is a big difference on how things are ran. First of all we have to pay a registration fee per 10 “app” slots (which isn’t cheap for registration) and once paid we can submit those apps aka themes by Dec 1st and see all of them once approved by Dec 6th. Anxious I checked back all hours of the 6th and I saw none of my themes on the phone or App World but saw my competition getting their unequal shot in at first dibbs. But I am not whining to much on that, if you tell us you’ll make it happen RIM then stay true (understand a lot of submissions but don’t tell us something you can’t hold true).

The way App World treats our Themes as Applications doesn’t help anyone out. I think they should do a separate “Theme World” as Kevin suggested. Android Market Place and iPhone App Store both do not accept native themes from the official company and have it prebuilt in to accept themes in the OS. This is where BlackBerry is leading the way, so why not make it so we have our own store to show it off instead of stepping on all the Application builders’ toes!

I have a friend of mine who owns NikkiSoft (makers of QuickLaunch) he has always been unhappy about the way applications are treated. We have to wait awhile just for a theme/app to be updated/approved which is bad for business. What if we needed to update to make things work better for the customer, does that mean the customers have to suffer the wait too?! Not cool when you try to pride yourself in awesome customer support. Also Mobihand lets me see when people buy a theme real-time and send me their email and what they bought etc., I have to login to App World to see if anyone purchased anything. I like to get emails so I can see everything real time and even email the user thanking them for their purchase or update all of them via Emails on bug fixes.

I have spoken with RIM on the phone and email about their new Theme Builder Software 5.0 that came out. It has a big bug in it that makes a couple of my top themes not work correctly, which not only my themes also many other developers. Any theme that displays the Signal and Clock Icons towards the bottom will stretch out the hotspot over the whole screen which makes any icon you put on the home screen click to the manage connections or clock screen. It’s been a couple months since I was on support with them and they would fix this ASAP. I feel if a big company like RIM can’t fix bugs in their software why would they open up APP World to customers and have buggy themes inside them. I am all about getting to the best spot I can to help and make people happy and right now my customers are upset on this bug (which is out of my hands)

But back on subject, Kevin is 100% on it with this and I hope RIM sees the way MOBIHAND does things. Granted it may not be security wise the best solution or officially not in their favor but that doesn’t mean they can’t learn a thing or two by Mobihand :) A community is about progressing towards the best solution and helping each other out, so thank god there’s a place like CrackBerry where we can voice our opinions which may or may not affect things but at least we have the “voice”!

I guess the main thing I’m trying to say is, yes good job on the theme in APP World RIM but why do you do things to early. The App World will be flooded constantly with these themes and not applications which are the main driving point of the device. I’m reaching out to you RIM right now, if you read this, let me help you guys and collaborate to better the App World Theme experience. I know many theme designers and App Developers and the only way you’re going to get the best out of things is communication, and being in the cell phone world you know this to be a big factor. Let’s meet halfway to ensure that the BlackBerry device is not only the best user device on the market , but also a profitable one, in every aspect.

Well said WJD. It is always nice for a consumer to see through the eyes of a developer. I just hope RIM is willing to do the same...

As owner of AG Designs & Graphics LLC, I understand and completely agree with everything you said. I mentioned earlier that I thought themes coming to App World were the best thing ever for theme developers, and I still believe it. BUT, RIM has not implemented themes well. More over, I have sent multiple (5) emails to RIM vendor support and they haven't even given me a response, and all of them should be simple easy questions that they could respond very quickly. And to boot, you have to search to find some answers to questions that are in their website. On top of that it takes forever to get an app/theme approved. Why as a company would they treat their developers with such disrespect, when we support the platform and are trying to make it better and make RIM money. Therefore the more apps they can approve the more money they make, and the more they approve the happier developers are, causing them to make more apps, and the circle starts over.

RIM not only needs to look to how MobiHand is managing their app Developer accounts but more importantly the support/interaction they provide to developers. In some senses developers are more important than consumers, and RIM really needs to believe this and take care of the people trying to make them money

Sorry for the rant, but I think a separate Theme World inside of App World would be nice, but thats the least of my concern with App World, if you couldn't tell.

It is wonderful to have themes added to App World, but it would be really great to have a Theme World app to feature them.

I just started with App World this week, but like Wayne said, it is very difficult to provide good, fast support for users when you have to wait a week for an update to be approved. That's something they really need to work on especially when they are going to charge us just to add themes. We pride ourselves on providing great service for our customers so it concerns me that an opportunity like App World could tarnish that service.

I expect the service will be much better than Handago, but so far Mobihand is the easiest to manage our themes and apps and lets us give our customers instant support and updates if needed. That part of the business is something RIM should help us to offer our customers on App World or Theme World if that ever happens.

I have a few themes that I have gotten from contests from various sites. I think $6.99 is a bit much for any theme. I have two themes that I really like and they are about the only two I use. They are both from ninjathemes and are clean and simple. No fluff and the added browser bookmark to the developers site that most developers add. Besides I hate having to go and re arrange my icons every time I install a new theme. It is pain in my.....


Wow that is great info to have. I thank you for sharing what you have been through and I wish I could change my Vote!!

I cannot agree with you more and I can only hope RIM is paying attention. You covered some VERY concerning points!!

RIM should take a page from Crackberry and their implementation of Their Themestore and Appstore.

I prefer getting my themes from CrackBerry. Half the fun is reading the forums!

Not to mention I would rather donate to my favorite themers than buy something from an unknown and then not like it.

I have never spent money on a theme. I may spend a dollar if I think I would really like it. Would really like a demo version for themes. Find a way to make the theme work for say 2 or three days then it just defaults back to the previous theme. Don't know if thats possible but I migth buy more themes if I could try them first. I use Plamic rotunda. Home screen has three icons that don't move then a wheel that has 10 icons that spin in a wheel. making it easy to find all the apps you use often and not all the ones you don't. Themes do need to be seperate from apps.

With animated themes asking a premium price, there should be a way to see the animated theme with the animation.

I personally won't purchase an animated theme without knowing what the animation is like.

I have bought themes before and not been entirely delighted with them so I am pay-theme-shy. But if I knew more of what I was getting, then I might be game.


I'm amazed just how many of the themes on offer are just tacky, butt ugly, and look like they got ripped off a Hallmark card, I wouldn't let them get within 10 miles of my BB never mind pay for them and waste the memory :-)
App World for Apps, Theme Park for Themes!!

Ok, so thought I check the AppWorld catalog via the web, and found 2-3 of the "free" themes that I might like, sports and animated xmas one, the catalog on the web stated they were available for the 9500 series and country was everywhere, so I sent the link to my Storm 2 via the "Get It Now" link and when it came I had it open through AppWorld only to find it stated "Not Available for my Carrier or Country" WTF, COME ON RIM, GET YOUR SHIT RIGHT, AM DOWNRIGHT TIRED OF THIS CRAP. I agree with Wayne, get your FU bugs worked out b4 you release or post things. Have been a BB user for just a year and love my BB, but after dealing with the Storm 1 debacle, if Iphone had been available through VZW I would have switched along time ago, at least Apple has the guts to "SWIFTLY" fix their FU in a timely manner.

I have two issues with BB themes.

$6.99, $9.99 for a theme

That is totally out to lunch and insulting to the pocket book.

I am running Classique Docked..a $2 theme. Dropping a toonie for one of those was well worth it. Dropping 3-4 toonies, I think not.

Also, while I appreciate the flexibility of RIM allowing for each theme to have its own rule set on Folders and App locations, it is a serious PITA to have to create folders, move programs around every time I try a new theme.

Give the user the option, it would make live so much easier.

I could conceive of paying $6.99 for a theme that was so slick and completely changed the UI experience of the Storm, but to pay that much for one that--as the developer's own description says--is a simple red and black theme is absurd. What's simple about that price?

1. Good job to RIM for getting the one up on Apple for creating a medium for themes to be sold. I'm sure developers are happy.

2. Separation is needed, badly! Apps and themes need to be separated, it gets too crazy having them together. Just make "Theme-World". Shouldn't be a problem.

3. Price, hellz no I ain't paying $7 for an app I can't even try out. They need more pics and/or even a way to demo the theme, especially if they're expecting people to drop $10 for a theme!! Think about it...

Hey what's up people, it's The Z Man here of Z Man Designs (iVista 2, Transitions, etc) and I have to agree with the enormously long comment by Wayne from WJD Designs.

Way back when I first started on my theme creation endeavor there were only a small handful of theme developers and at the same time there were not NEARLY as many themes available as there are now. It seems like every time I poke around the net there are 20 new themes. The "market" has just been flooded by tons and tons of themes.

I've always preached that themes and apps should be completely separate. They're not the same thing and therefore cannot be subjected to the same criteria an app is subjected. When I look down a list of the top selling apps I don't want to see themes and vice versa for themes. It's like mixing oil and water. MobiHand (and CrackBerry) does it EXTREMELY well with their theme and app mobile stores separated.

I don't want to be #5 on a list of apps and themes when I could be #1 on a list of just themes. The same goes for app developers. They don't want their apps to have a lower ranking just because everyone is buying the latest greatest theme.

hey, i gotta agree, that transitions is well sweet, makes my attempts at the hero themes seem poor! still its great having people with talent like yours, WJD and all the others as competition can only lead to good things all round :)

back on the topic though i totally agree that something should be done with app world, i mean i love themes big time, hence why i make and distribute them (ironically so far my best one is free). either a seperate section, or a theme world as some else suggested, what would be cool is if when ya open app world you have two icons on say the left and right of the screen and you just choose which you want to browse, either apps or themes, so you have the option every time you open app world

personally i still prefer the layout of the cb(mobihand) stores, just more intuitave

Good to See I can grasp what other Theme developers deal with... If I can do anything to change and better things I will for us devolopers and consumers... People make sure you infact know who your buying a theme from, if they got a WJD Designs seal - AHAZ Designs - ZMAN - NATEMZ etc. just please do your homework before you buy a theme and then say bad stuff about themes in general... theres tons of great well worked on themes that we spend days to make.. do your homework and even shoot an email to the designer for credentials and make sure it is what you want!

I prefer to use the app store. Not only does it do a better job of keeping things for you when you switch devices, it supports this site!
That being said, I imagine there are just oodles of people who still don't feel comfortable making an online purchase yet think appworld is OK. Either that or they don't know about the mobihand network because their browser is always set to facebook. So yeah the increased exposure will hopefully put some more change in the developer's pockets, but I don't need appworld if I can get it from the Crackberry app store.
As for the prices that are charged, if it's not worth it don't buy it. I've been burned a few times, and I've also found some great themes too.

just letting everyone know, the reason why pricing is ridiculous on some themes is because RIM is asking for 200$ per 10 applications/themes uploaded

They should partner up with mobihand and follow their model on a commission based/royalty system, it helps both the author and themselves. those 10 applications upload could be even different versions for different devices for that one theme.

I would have to sell 100 themes to break even, if thats even possible! (at my current 2 dollar price for classique, now available for the 8900/9000/9600/9700...go get it!).

but its true, themes are overloading app world, i think its more about the approval process really. they should approve themes that would actually sell and not just themes that just had color changes or background changes, its kind of embarrassing really

Does anyone know RIM is a regular reader of Not only does your post (this one and the others) provide some extremely good points of view, it opens the discussion of user preference to the very audience RIM is targeting.

I was just curious if RIM has contacted the site directly with any feedback to the various posts, prose, profiles and opinions.

Apps are one thing but why would anyone want to change the BB look. I like the looks and functions of a BB. People install all these themes and useless Apps and then wonder why there BBs don't work correctly. I have 8 popular and great Apps installed on my Storm 2 and never had a problem with it or my past phones. Yea RIM could update some of there icons to look a little better'but forget themes. ..Just change your wallpaper. .

I have a lot more than 8 apps on my Storm2 and a rather large theme (in file size) and it still runs wonderfully. To each his own.

And hey...if you only have those 8 apps, then why do you care about what goes into app world?!

Like the subject says, I've basically had enough with app world. Great idea, but poor execution. Especially this new update they tried to force onto my handheld is so slow, and that was after the two failed attempts at downloading because their server timed out. I wound up deleting it and do not plan on re-installing.

On the other hand, I've purchased many apps and a few themes from Mobihand and have had very good customer service so far. The reviews are more meaningful and purchasing doesn't require PayPal (another hassle). Just a more flexible online shopping experience altogether. It's also easier to find exactly what I'm looking for and at least I know it'll be the latest version of the app or theme.

i think that being able to personilize your phone is great but if the app is downloaded and it screws up your phone to the point that it works crazy then i have a problem with that i downloaded the droid theme and it totally messed up my phone that my apps were no longer working right i am now waiting for my new phone(storm2) to come in the mail. a friend of mine has storm 1 and he downloaded a theme from app world and he had to do a hard reset and reload his apps back to his phone. i know i will wait for some time before trying another theme again

Checkout his themes in the forums. I'm completely hooked on his Mini Border theme. Works perfectly on 5.0! I'd rather donate money to him and get a theme I like that works rather than giving one cent to CrapWorld.

I'm only a quasi-geek and a girlie one at that. I love my BB and its functionality but never underestimate my need to see cuteness. Yes I ended up blowing about $20 on a couple of themes. Fiscally prudent? No. Me happy? Yes. I do agree that perhaps they could put the theming somewhere that isn't so intrusive with the other featured apps. I also think more than $5 is a bit much.

Why Crackberry's APP Store still has themes sold in it (and even as the daily deal) whenever it has an ENTIRELY SEPARATE Theme store...THAT is significantly more annoying than App World's current implementation, as at least it is expected :p

I really do not care about themes in App World or the CB App store. I will not pay for a theme. I'll give a donation to a theme builder who creates a nice free theme. I paid for a couple themes, but they were crummy. The free themes were better, and I did make a donation to a couple of theme builders whose free themes were nice.

And they should not be treated the same. Further I don't think it is right for them to assume that people who download apps also want themes. This is NOT the case at all.

I've downloaded and tried themes before and while they are an interesting change of pace for the most part I have found them to be bloat and a waste of memory. I went back to the default themes and a theme would have to be pretty special for me to download one again. I will never pay for them because to me they just aren't worth it. Change the wallpaper and I am good.

Take them out of AppWorld and create a separate ThemeWorld app (using the same source code so I don't see it being that hard) let the theme fans have their themes but let leave the rest of us alone.

i wish app world had GOOD themes, not many people change their theme daily, weekly, or monthly at best. i found the hybrid theme months ago and i havent changed since. i love it; i wouldnt change it unless a good and highly clean one arised. bb app world should, in my opinion, concentrate on making efficient and clean themes not snowflakes ones, or fall leaves, i mean if i wanted a snow flake as my theme i'd just get a cool winter background. -_-