Friday, March 6, 2009

Blackberry's application store foray

Blackberry is joining the app-store party by launching its own application store for the the Blackberry platform. There is a nice developer website and lots of buzz around RIM's latest move to take on the growing popularity of iTunes's app-store and the upcoming Nokia Ovi app-store. It is going to be an uphill battle catching up with the iPhone for all these me-too app-store ; but the Blackberry platform is a slightly different beast and its app-store positioning is quite different for some reasons.

First, most Blackberries are corporate property with significant organizational IT control over the devices. RIM may be positioning the developer tools and app-store for corporate IT development rather than for encouraging college-kid hackers who are trying to make a fast buck or two by writing a small game etc. This may explain why the Blackberry developer license ($200) is more expensive than the iTunes developer license ($99). In my opinion Blackberry isn't nearly looking to equal the number of iPhone applications. Its looking for serious business centric stuff on its app-store.

Second, Blackberries are not fun devices. When I see a Blackberry I start thinking of my consultant friends, complete with black suits and polished leather shoes! The Blackberry application consumer is going to be very unlike a 14-year old teen touting yet-another facebook widget on her iPhone. Instead, its going to be a corporate IT vice-president who likes an activity logging tool for the Blackberry to keep tabs on employees. Or an executive who downloads an extension of pocket-Excel for say, better readability. Bottomline: serious business applications.

Third, Blackberry apps will have to "work" much harder to gain the trust of potential downloaders. Blackberries carry confidential data and compromising this data could put the owners business (and/or job) at risk. Imagine the consequences of a software trojan that opens a connection to a server, dumps the contents of the Blackberry, and then blackmails the user or her organization? Certified and branded software applications have a much better chance of acceptance in the Blackberry user space.

Lastly, the Blackberry back-end is a unique add-on for developers. The "push" technology back-end of RIM can be used to create innovative applications on the Blackberry that may not be possible on other platforms. Question is, what is the (other) killer application for RIM push technology?

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