Research in Motion is busily putting the final touches to its BlackBerry 10 operating system, which is set to launch at an event on January 30. One of the key areas of any modern smartphone operating system is its app ecosystem, particularly when its new, as it needs a healthy selection of apps to attract buyers.
RIM knows this well, so it has put considerable effort into building up a library of apps ready for BB10 phones to go on sale. Just this week it has extended the deadline for its Built for BlackBerry program and the $10K Developer Commitment competition, due to a response it says has been, “nothing short of amazing.”
Built for BlackBerry encourages developers to submit their apps to RIM for testing, after which, should they be approved, they get an official seal of approval. The $10K challenge runs alongside this scheme, and promises to bring the earnings of any developer who has a Built for BlackBerry approved app up to $10,000 in the first year, should the app not make that figure itself.
It has obviously proved to be a considerable incentive, as RIM has confirmed that at the final Port-A-Thon event held last weekend – where developers use special tools to convert Android and non-Android apps over to BlackBerry 10 – a total of 19,071 apps were submitted for approval. This improves on the already impressive 15,000 submissions it received at a similar event at the beginning of the year.
At least 70,000 apps available at launch
So that’s 34,000 apps at the approval stage, all ready for BlackBerry 10’s launch at the end of the month. RIM’s CEO Thorsten Heins told the German newspaper Die Welt in an interview that BlackBerry 10 will launch with, “about 70,000 applications,” available. We wonder whether that figure will rise following the success of the Port-A-Thon events?
For the sake of argument, let’s say there will be 70,000 apps available for BlackBerry 10 when it goes on sale. How does this compare with other stores? While it’s a tenth of the total apps inside iTunes and Google Play, it’s not far off the 125,000 or so available for Windows Phone, arguably its primary rival at the moment. Microsoft recently said it took them a year to add 75,000 apps to the catalog, and one mustn’t forget that when Windows Phone 7 launched in 2010, it only had about 1,000 apps ready for download.
However, while 70,000 apps is a very respectable figure, and on the surface makes the newly rebranded BlackBerry World look like a fully fledged app ecosystem; the number of apps is only half the story. There can be hundreds of thousands of apps for download, but if none of them do what someone wants, or they’re primarily low quality, word will soon spread and damage its reputation. So while we tend to emphasize the overall number of apps available, we should always remember that quality trumps quantity every time.
BlackBerry 10 is getting some good early press, and Research in Motion is going all out to make it a success. We’re really looking forward to its official debut at the end of the month.