App Store numbers are deceptive - beware of “bulk apps” RIM


In a recent interview with RIM VP Jeff McDowell, it was brought up that App World had hit its 2,000th application. This may seem insignificant compared to the 40,000 applications in Apple’s App Store but there is a lot going on that is skewing the numbers.

While Jeff’s answer was good, saying “I don’t think it matters whether it’s 40,000 or 2,000, you’ve still got a broad range of choice,” there is something deceptive going on that should have been exposed during the interview.

Apple’s App Store, to put it simply, is bloated with “bulk apps.” These are template-based applications sold at the same price point with the same look and feel but different content. These applications are responsible for the spike in applications added to Apple’s App Store during the first six months of 2009, according to a new study published by hybrid location system developer Skyhook Wireless.

According to Skyhook, the App Store, which now has over 65,000 applications, added thousands of 99-cent bulk apps during the first half of the year. One unnamed developer, sells more than 850 travel applications based on the same template, with each individual app swapping out content based on specific vacation destinations. These mass-produced local search and travel guide apps now account for around one third of total iPhone LBS apps, Skyhook adds.

“The release of bulk apps is a monetization strategy. These developers aim to sell many apps at low price points and low volumes, rather than millions of downloads of one killer app,” said Skyhook Wireless director of marketing and developer programs Kate Imbach in a prepared statement. “There is not yet a well-understood path to monetization for mobile apps. Developers are experimenting with various price points, mobile advertising and virtual goods. Creating a catalog of bulk apps is another new and unproven marketing method for mobile apps. As developers experiment with these strategies, it will be interesting to see if bulk apps gain traction.”

While many developers have complained that it needs to be easier to develop for BlackBerry, this is one example where this has actually helped App World. Looking forward, RIM could learn a lot from this research. Avoiding bulk apps will be crucial to keep App World clean and tidy.


14 Responses to “App Store numbers are deceptive - beware of “bulk apps” RIM”

  1. 1 Andrew

    Good Analogy, , besides the fact, 40 plus thousand apps…I find it hard to find a good app with just having to browse 2000 in app world.

    the one thing I would like to see brought to App World that iphone has its processing rules for letting apps in…the big issue for me..apps that don’t run as well as they should on the platform….this causes great distress to buy an app to see it caused memory issues and so forth…there need to be more stringent regs in place for submissions.


  2. 2 Josh

    Agreeing with you, Andrew. The fact that the AppStore has 50k apps actually bothers me. How can a developer get anywhere in that environment.

    A friend and I plan on doing a podcast soon, and we will probably argue about this a lot. He’s a huge iPhone geek, and I’m a BlackBerry geek. We both develop for our respective platforms and always have these arguments.

  3. 3 DavidB

    Ok, but even being “hard” isn’t going to help RIM here. “Hard” is only for the first one! After that they have a “template” that they can then use to pump out hundreds more just like App Store is seeing. The disincentive of a $2.99 minimum price WILL help minimize such proliferation though despite those who poo-poo that.

  4. 4 BlackBerryCool (BlackBerry Cool)

    App Store numbers are deceptive - beware of ?bulk apps? RIM

  5. 5 yudzz88 (Prayudi Utomo)

    RT @BlackBerryCool: App Store numbers are deceptive - beware of ?bulk apps? RIM

  6. 6 Josh Schairbaum

    If I were RIM, I’d be a lot less worried about what’s in the iPhone App Store and a lot more worried about making App World the definitive source for applications on a Blackberry. I find almost all of what I need OTA elsewhere.

  7. 7 CrackBaby®

    Despite the name, appworld isn’t available to to the world.
    Can anyone who happens to live in a country where it works, see if there is an app available for the storm that works as a drum sequencer?

    I know there are loads for the iphone, but all I could find for BB was a program called vibe, and its not realy storm-compatible.

    Sorry for being off-topic.


  8. 8 Rich R

    You can find up to date stats at

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