This year for the holidays, I would very much like BlackBerry App World to offer gift cards. While I don’t believe they are going to do it, I think it would be a huge opportunity to introduce new BlackBerry users to the world of downloading apps and opening up the market to more app users.
Everyone else is doing it:
The BlackBerry Cool store offers gift cards in 15, 20, 30, 50, 75, 100, 150 and 200 dollar amounts. The gift card amounts go fairly high so that you can have enough money on the account to get accessories too. App World gift cards wouldn’t have to go that high, but I guess there’s no harm in offering it. One of the features that Mobihand offers that would appeal to App World users is the product-specific gift certificate. I would love to see App World include a feature called “Buy this for a friend.”
Bplay offers gift cards in 5, 10, 15, 20, 30 and 50 dollar amounts. You can also customize the gift card by changing the background and writing a custom message on it. When your gift card is ready, you can have it emailed to your friend/loved one and you can even schedule it to arrive on a certain day. This would be a great birthday gift idea too, as you can buy all your birthday gifts at once, schedule them, and just wait for the thank you notes.
iTunes gift cards come in 15, 25 and 50 dollar values. Apple also has a Holiday Gift Card set that comes in 15, 25, 50 and 100 dollar values. Something that Apple is doing with their gift cards that RIM should consider is leveraging the Red brand. RIM have already partnered with U2, who are well known for supporting the Red brand, so it makes a lot of sense for them to use this as well.
So what opportunities is RIM missing? Back at the BlackBerry Developer Conference, we were told that RIM will be opening up App World to themes, and that we can expect an update to App World “next month.” Well I can tell you that themes will go live in App World on December 14th, just in time for the holidays. There will be a bunch of free themes in there too so those new to themes can get an idea of what it’s like. This is a nice addition to the experience, but with gift cards, it would open up the market even further, promoting users to discover premium themes. It’s a tough sell to get someone to jump from free to $6.99 (assuming pricing will be similar to what the market looks like right now). With gift cards, users would be free to check out the most elaborate of themes in App World, and buy a few apps while they’re at it too. Apple set the tone with $0.99 apps and while we have seen the benefits of a $2.99 minimum (less bulk apps), gift cards would do wonders for convincing new BlackBerry users of the value that $2.99 gets you.
What say you? Does App World need gift cards?
UPDATE: Hmmm…I might have jumped the gun on the December 14th date. I’ve been getting emails saying I’m close but not exactly right. If I’m wrong it’s going to be very close to December 14th. I can guarantee you it will be before Christmas.