Few BlackBerry Apps: RIM Has a Fix

You can hear the stats anywhere. Apple has 225,000+ applications available on its App Store, while Research In Motion Ltd. (RIM) only has around 7,000 applications available on its App World. RIM has needed to fix this problem for quite a while now, and the releases of the iPad and iPhone 4 have only made things look bleaker.

All hope is not lost however. The BlackBerry App World 2.0 is coming very shortly, and RIM has started to take additional steps to ensure that its customers have access to all of the applications that they need. Before I talk about how RIM is going to change things to make sure that developers start churning out apps for your BlackBerry, let me explain why the BlackBerry has had difficulties attracting developers.

First of all there are just so many different BlackBerry smartphones available and already in consumers hands. This makes things very difficult for developers. Because of the differences between BlackBerry models and OS versions, developers have to spend a lot more time testing and ensuring compatibility before they can release an application. Apple’s iPhone is essentially the same no matter which version it is, giving it an advantage. Google’s Android OS handles most of the hardware differences for developers, so making applications for that platform is also easier than developing for RIM devices.

Second, some carriers have undermined RIM’s efforts (think Rogers Communications Inc.) by releasing their own BlackBerry App stores instead of loading RIM’s onto phones that they sell. Letting them do that was not a smart move by any stretch of the imagination and basically splinters the distribution of apps.

Third, Apple offers drag and drop tools to build apps. RIM’s application developers have to write everything from scratch, in code.

Fourth, the current version of BlackBerry App World only supports payments through PayPal. Carrier billing or using credit cards are not supported. RIM really screwed up on this one.

Okay, so how is RIM fixing all of this? Well the smartphone maker is releasing a new OS version (BlackBerry OS 6) that should make applications work better across different models. It is also releasing drag and drop tools to speed up the application development cycle. And it is releasing the BlackBerry App World 2 shortly that allows carrier billing, credit card billing, and in app payment for unlocking features. Whether or not all of these together will be enough to turn the tide is still up for speculation, but I would expect them to give RIM a much needed boost.

Tags: , ,