It looks like RIM is announcing App World 2.0 on June 16th, as they’ve sent out invitations to a press event where they’re showing “what’s new in BlackBerry App World”. We’re not sure exactly what they’ll be announcing, but RIM is fairly predictable in its announcement strategy. The general approach is tell you what they’re going to announce and then 10 months or so later have an event where they say “we said we would deliver X and here it is.”
So what did they say will arrive for App World 2.0? Here is what we’re expecting:
- Credit card billing
- Carrier billing
- Preload on all OS 5 devices and higher
- WiFi downloads
- Desktop catalog to mirror on-device App World
- Microtransactions for games, premium video content etc.
- More account management options and search improvements
- Greater number of enterprise apps in the catalog (new category perhaps)
- Free and Paid catalogs in all countries App World currently supports
There is a lot of pressure on RIM to deliver a better App World experience and catch up with the rest of the smartphone market. Developers are in high demand right now because hardware manufacturers understand that compelling apps help to drive device sales and creating a marketplace where developers can make money is key to success in this new app economy.
At WWDC there wasn’t anything spectacular announced for the Apple App Store, which means this is the perfect time to roll out some App World features to catch up, or even leap frog the competition. Steve Jobs announced the iBookstore, an e-book division of App Store that makes sense given the iPad and high resolution screens they’re working with. He also announced some interesting statistics such as the fact that they have 150 million credit cards on file and over 225,000 apps.
With regards to statistics, RIM needs to be promoting their app numbers better. The number of BlackBerry apps in App World is not indicative of the number of apps that are available to BlackBerry users. Anyone can make a BlackBerry app and publish the JAD files on their site for download. It’s even possible to make unsigned apps for BlackBerry which RIM has no way of tracing. There are many developers publishing to the BlackBerryCool Store that have not applied to App World. The BBCool store has around 1500 apps for the 9650 and many of these could complement the 2100 or so 9650 apps currently in App World (not including games and themes).
Carrier billing is going to truly be the killer feature for App World. There is a very large segment of users who do not purchase apps because they don’t have PayPal and they don’t enjoy entering credit card information. These users are going to be flocking to App World and discovering what their BlackBerry can really do. This feature demonstrates the benefits of working closely with the carriers. The countless years that RIM has invested in cultivating a close relationship with the carrier is really going to pay off as they’ll be the first on-device app store to have this feature.
Enterprise apps are also going to highlight the BlackBerry advantage. Apple has been talking about an enterprise presence but it’s really just Steve Jobs’ reality distortion field. Hopefully, we’ll see App World have the ability to distribute apps to an organization in a way that makes them easy to deploy and relevant.
The App World 2.0 features are going to encourage many of the above “gray market” developers to move to RIM’s central app distribution channel. Once all of these apps are brought under the App World banner and the above features are implemented, the app economy on BlackBerry could take a dramatic shift.