BlackBerry 10 adds 30,000 apps in seven weeks. Any good ones?
Is 100,000 BlackBerry 10 apps the same thing as 100,000 good BlackBerry 10 apps?
Back in January, BlackBerry introduced BlackBerry 10, its latest operating system. Seven weeks later, BlackBerry says it now has 100,000 BB10 apps – 30,000 more than it had at launch – available in the BlackBerry World app store.
"The response to the BlackBerry 10 platform and applications has been outstanding," BlackBerry exec Martyn Mallick said in a statement. "Customers are thrilled with the applications already available, and the catalog just keeps growing, now with more than 100,000 apps. Top brands and application providers are joining us every day and are seeing the benefits of being early supporters of the new platform."
It's certainly true that the appearance of 30,000 new apps is certainly a sign for a company struggling to win back market share it lost long ago to Apple and Google. But it may be helpful to put Mr. Mallick's enthusiasm in perspective. First of all, BlackBerry still lags far behind other operating systems in terms of the number of apps it offers. Google, for instance, offers more than 700,000 apps on the Google Play platform; Apple's iTunes has more than a million.
Furthermore, having 100,000 apps is not the same as having 100,000 good apps. As plenty of other outlets have already noted, it appears that approximately 40 percent of BB10 apps are not original BB10 content. Instead, they are simply "wrapped" – or re-purposed – Android apps.
"The difference is important," writes Eric Zeman of Information Week. "Apps written expressly for the BB10 platform can take full advantage of BB10's user interface elements and run more efficiently. Apps ported over from the Android platform are wrapped in code that can slow them down. Android apps cannot use all of BB10's user interface elements, either. In other words, the experience isn't as good."
Indeed, in a scathing and much-read blog post at ZD Net back in January, Matthew Miller wrote that he could find barely 50 good apps on the BlackBerry World store. He also wrote that app discovery was "as bad on BB10 as the PlayBook, with no easy way to browse all free apps and very limited featured sections. I found the best way to discover apps is to search for ones you use on other platforms."
Early reports indicate that the Z10 phone – the first device to run the BB10 operating system – is selling moderately well. But as Sterne Agee analyst Shaw Wu recently pointed out, it remains unclear whether BlackBerry will able to make inroads into the market currently dominated by Apple's iPhone and high-powered Android phones such as the Samsung Galaxy S3.
"Our feedback indicates buyers are long-time loyalists as opposed to new customers," Mr. Wu told Street Insider in an interview in early March.
For more tech news, follow us on Twitter @venturenaut.