Over the past few days now there has been a ton of focus placed on 'the things BlackBerry has done wrong'. It seems everyone out there appears to know more about being a CEO than actual CEO's do, especially when the topic is BlackBerry. That's not necessarily a bad thing as it often times leads to some great discussion. One thread in the CrackBerry Forums that caught my attention, because I in some ways agree with it, was this one.
The Q10 is a nice device, but without the apps and other elements of the ecosystem it is at an enormous disadvantage.
The topic of apps on BlackBerry has been an issue for quite some time now, even before BlackBerry 10 existed. Previously, the devices were limited in what developers could do with apps. BlackBerry OS couldn't handle the richer apps due to how old the architecture was. BlackBerry 10 has changed that for the most part and now the devices can handle more, but the API's and such for the BlackBerry 10 SDK are still being released and developers were, until recently, hitting some limitations.
To say BlackBerry has made leaps and bounds towards improving the app situation isn't far off, but there is still room for improvement in this area, no doubt about it. It's not due to lack of apps, last we heard there were over 235,000 apps in BlackBerry World and climbing. It's due to lack of apps people really want. Here we are, seven months after launch, and we are still missing the big names like Instagram and Netflix, and even basic apps, yet critical to many, such as banking apps. So why don't we have these apps yet?
Many companies are taking the 'wait and see' approach, they are waiting to see if BlackBerry 10 will be successful before devoting time, resources and money. They want to see a return on their investment. Companies are in the business of making money, that's the bottom line, and right now they don't see it happening on the BlackBerry 10. Consumers are turned away from BlackBerry because their favorite apps are missing and companies aren't making the apps because devices aren't selling. Chicken and egg problem, if you will.
It's all about the apps now, not how good the phone or operating system is.
When the average consumer walks into a store to buy a new cell phone what compelling reason do they have to purchase a BlackBerry over an iPhone or Android device? BlackBerry 10 is a great platform, but that isn't enough for today's consumer. So what is BlackBerry doing about it? Well they've run BlackBerry Jam sessions all over the globe to incite developer interest in the platform, which is great. They've offered developer incentives by way of the Built for BlackBerry Program and Dev Alpha devices and held Port-A-Thons galore, for better or worse.
BlackBerry has a great platform and great development tools which are growing with each release. But what are they doing to get companies on board? While we don't know what goes on behind closed doors, what is apparent is that it is not enough, and things like having 100 arguably useless map apps whoring up the newly arrived apps list in BlackBerry World is DEFINITELY not helping. At this point BlackBerry needs to go all out. Arguably, they should have been going all out since 2007 when the iPhone was announced, but that's neither here nor there now.
If BlackBerry could have "bought" those apps, they would have. They simply can't. They can only be "bought" with marketshare numbers.
The question that comes up the most is 'Why isn't Thorsten Heins being sent down to Menlo Park with a suitcase full of cash and being told to make it rain in Zuckerberg's office?'. Personally, I think that's a reasonable question and some would say that's exactly what Microsoft has been doing with Windows Phone 8. Pay the big names to have their app on the platform if you have to. If they're concerned about development costs then eliminate those costs for them. Take those costs out of the equation by paying those costs for them.
Of course, you have to consider the costs involved with that overall but to that I say, what would have been better? Launching with all the big name apps or a 30 second spot during a football game? Most folks would say that money would have been better spent on ensuring even more top apps were present and there's been plenty of criticism about all of that as well. Would better commercials showing off more of the device features have helped? Did the hiring of Alicia Keys help sell any devices or push the brand forward? While there's always room to improve advertising efforts, I think having the apps people want is the best advertising.
Almost every commercial I see for something that has an app always says in it "can be downloaded on iTunes or Google Play". All that free advertisement going around for them and who wouldn't want a phone that every app is made for the phone.
I know many will argue the stuff laid out here and some will even say that there isn't an app problem for them and that's fine, because for the most part, I'm fine with the app situation myself. But that's because I own multiple devices and don't really need some of those apps on my BlackBerry as they're really not all that important to my daily life. We're talking about the bigger picture here, the people who do use those apps every day and really do care whether or not they're on BlackBerry before they decide to make use of a BlackBerry smartphone. Those apps not being there do hurt BlackBerry.
Join the community discussion
The topic of app availability on BlackBerry isn't going away. Every day, the CrackBerry Twitter account gets asked when is such and such app coming to BlackBerry 10. Some times there is an answer but more often than not there is no answer and that's not cool. How do you all feel about the app situation now? Sound off in the comments or hop into the CrackBerry Forums and let us know.