Lessons for App World from existing BlackBerry content providers

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WES 2009
Photo courtesy of Nan Palmero.

Here at WES 2009 there is a lot of talk about App World. While it is an evolutionary step for RIM and BlackBerry, third parties have been providing content to early adopter BlackBerry users for years. To understand how RIM can improve App World, we can look to existing portals for tips. Handango, Mobihand and Handmark are some major portals, while companies like Bplay are offering BlackBerry content as well.

One of the first things you’ll notice about App World, and we’ve been hearing a lot of complaints about this, is the marriage to PayPal. Third party app vendors offer a wide range of payment methods and RIM should do the same. Ideally, we would see carrier billing, but more on that later.

App World would be nothing without the robust developer community surrounding it. If RIM legal could loosen up a little, we would see more apps and solutions for users. Many applications such as TetherBerry, have been denied access to App World due to the simple fact that RIM legal will not allow any submissions containing the words “Black” or “Berry.” This is the sort of barrier to entry that isn’t conducive to helping the developers get their app distributed. These companies have used these prefixes and suffixes as a testament to their love of the device, and it’s harsh to shut these apps out.

With fewer restrictions for getting apps into App World, we’ll see a large uptake in the sheer number of apps available. Handango has recently announced that its BlackBerry content catalog has surpassed 15,000 apps, making it a serious destination for BlackBerry content.

A quick breakdown of the content available includes:

  • 500 free apps
  • 4000 apps under $5
  • 8000 apps between $5 and $10
  • Nearly 3,000 that cost more than $10
  • An average app price of $18.55
  • This is an indication of the number of apps we can expect to see on App World given more freedom.

    Another major improvement to App World has less to do with RIM and everything to do with carriers. As consumers, we need to be doing a better job of letting carriers know that their content decks aren’t delivering quality content, and we have no interest in purchasing from them. By killing their revenue stream, it will be easier for RIM to convince the carriers to step out of the way, and let them handle content distribution. Once the carrier has become a pipe, we’ll see App World preloaded on devices, and pushed to users. As of now, it’s unlikely the carriers will allow RIM to eat their lunch.