Alec Saunders, RIM Dev Relations, Says 500K Apps and a 41MP Camera Are Meaningless


It’s great to see RIM shaking things up and challenging the same tired narrative that the media loves to repeat ad nauseum (ie “the hardware spec race is worth fighting” and “the number of apps on your platform dictates success”). At Mobile World Congress, Alec Saunders, VP of Developer Relations at RIM, gave some interesting sound bites including 500,000 apps and a 41MP camera are “meaningless”. It’s a good point that gives a little insight into how RIM is tackling the app ecosystem. Rather than concern yourself with building a platform to attract massive amounts of duplicates and fluff, build a platform that will entice the best of the best. That being said, lots of choice is always great, and duplicates isn’t so bad if you’re providing a variety of features and price points.

Alec Saunders talking about DevCon Europe 2012 (YouTube link).

Saunders gave some stats about the PlayBook’s current success:

  • 30 percent of PlayBook owners upgraded to OS 2 within the first 24 hours
  • A week later over half upgraded to the new OS
  • UPDATED: App World currently has around 60,000 apps and PlayBook has passed the 10,000 PlayBook apps benchmark
  • Around 7,000 apps have recently been submitted for PlayBook

On the number of apps in App World, Saunders said that reaching the same number as other platforms, around 500,000-700,00 is a pointless ambition. “What does it mean to have 500,000 or 700,000 apps on a platform? There may be 30,000 unique apps in existence in that. There is a lot of duplication.” says Saunders. On Nokia’s announcement, he said “It’s similar to the idea of 500,000 apps. At 17 megapixels, a camera is completely sufficient.”

I for one agree that the goal shouldn’t be reaching some incredibly large number of apps or making sure BlackBerry has hardware specs that are vastly better than the competitors. The goal should be to make sure the BlackBerry platform can attract the top tier of apps and be a part of launch day. RIM is doing a great job of this when it comes to games on the PlayBook. Just watch, the next version of Angry Birds will launch simultaneously on PlayBook, alongside the iPad. I’d like to see the same happen for startups and apps that require some deeper integration. Not that I’m a huge fan of apps like Color, but it will be a major turning point when these apps/companies launch on iOS and BlackBerry simultaneously.

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  • Matthias Marquardt

    Well - it’s always very easy to say something is “meaningless” when you don’t have it…

  • Anonymous

    if ”
    Around 7,000 apps have recently been submitted for PlayBook”
    WHY don’t they show up under “New Arrivals”????

    And how many of the new arrivals are amongst those “500.000″ nonsense apps ??- 

    from what I can see in AppWorld on my device - 99.9% of all available apps - are nonsense apps. Read reviews and you find that they either don’t do as promised, or don’t work at all - or from what we read online - many of the AppWorld accepted apps - are pirate-copied android apps. Perhaps some of these actually work, but as we also have seen in the past - a week or two after released - they suddenly disappear.

    The apps does not even follow RIM’s own guidelines for GUI etc…

    What is the purpose of AppWorlds “acceptance” process? It clearly does not do a very good job.

  • Kyle McInnes

    The review process could definitely be faster. Back in the OS 6 days, turnaround on an app could be a few business days. There’s obviously a huge influx of PlayBook apps that’s swamping the team. I’m sure it will be back to normal once the PlayBook giveaway is over.

  • Anonymous

    ha ha ha - don’t have it? I have tried so many of them - and found out the hard way what nonsense is out there…. 

  • Mavricxx

    This is the exact reason why RIM is in the trouble they’re in!  First they said, they didn’t need apps now they are scrambling to get developers.  The worst part is that most of the hard hitting big names aren’t there yet.  As an avid BlackBerry fan, I sure hope they do make it and like Alec says, hopefully more big name apps will launch along with the other OSs.