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BlackBerry App World: Thumbs Up or Down?

Posted by: Olga Kharif on March 05, 2009

BlackBerry maker Research In Motion is inching closer to opening up its new mobile applications store. The company unveiled a new storefront last night. Users can register to be notified when the store opens up. They can also set up PayPal accounts to get ready to use the store.

Clearly, since the store is still closed, it’s too early to judge. But a couple of things we already know about the BlackBerry App World have given me pause. First off, the applications sold through the site will have to either be free, or cost at least $2.99. That’s way more than the average price of 99 cents at the iTunes App Store, which caters to iPhone owners. It seems like a very high price to charge in a recession, at a time when competitors who’ve launched months earlier are charging less.

Secondly, I am not sure that requiring customers to register with PayPal (it’s the only payment method accepted at the App World at launch) is a good idea. Many consumers, myself included, prefer to use credit cards. That’s the standard method of payment at iTunes and other mobile app stores like Handango.

Third, there’s apparently a $200 fee that developers have to pay RIM to register and submit their first 10 applications. Apple charges $99 for its standard developer program. RIM’s higher rate could turn away some developers, such as college students who’ve been enthusiastic contributors to both iTunes and Android Market, a store that peddles applications for the T-Mobile G1.

Finally, some BlackBerry owners will find that some older phone models, such as 7290, aren’t supported. Do you see these as issues that are big enough to hold BlackBerry App World back? Or do you think that RIM is on the right track?

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Reader Comments


March 6, 2009 07:09 AM

Blackberry is so far behind the curve on every new application or technology development - does it really matter?

Old, corporate emphasis, missing the train RIM!


March 6, 2009 07:21 AM

Looking at the prices, it makes my choice of a new phone easier....looks like it's gonna be a Iphone.


March 6, 2009 07:25 AM

PayPal makes it a non-starter for me. The only time I was ever the victim of credit card fraud was through PayPal. I'll check out RIM's store after they come to their senses.


March 6, 2009 07:26 AM

sounds a little weak.


March 6, 2009 07:34 AM

When RIM introduced the Storm they demonstrated that they are "not ready for prime time". I would not expect their new app store to prove they are ready to run with the big dogs at this time.


March 6, 2009 07:42 AM

I also pay with credit cards but I use Paypal. You can use a credit card with Paypal to make a purchase. Using Paypal prevents the vendor from ever seeing your credit card number making the transaction a little safer. Paypal will also mediate disputes and keeps a record of the transaction. Smart way to go really.

Dick Ko

March 6, 2009 07:50 AM

BlackbBerry is a different animal in that it appeals to "Business" or perhaps "Corporate" users. If applications appear that seem to be must have for busy business men on the go then usefulness not price will determine sales figures.Another version of Tetris, no; A simple spreadsheet app or appointment alarm? maybe so.
Junior executives would list the expense listed on their monthly business expense submission if it had a Corporate speak title.
That's my take. People (Obama for one) get fanatic about their BlackBerries.


March 6, 2009 07:54 AM

the 2.99 price is fine
being limited to PayPal is lame
not supporting older models is necessary


March 6, 2009 08:02 AM

I think that if I had a BlackBerry that I would NOT use the App World. As it is, I have trouble paying for things on Zune Marketplace because I have no money. It does not make sense to charge the $200 fee for the first 10 customers, OR the $2.99 for apps when you only pay $2.99 at other app stores for the bigger files, such as movies and videos. The BlackBerry App World is not a help to this economy, it's a HINDRANCE.


March 6, 2009 08:09 AM

I don't get Rim NOR Microsoft who are both trying to start stores and storefront businesses during a recession. I'm not a retailer but even "I" know that the best time to start a business is just before Christmas and not during hard times.

I've been a Mac person ever since I purchased my "Apple IIc". A rival to the Commador 64k. I use an iPhone and iPod touch to communicate with when not at home. All the GOOD apps are FREE on iTunes. News, GPS, games that i use are free. Even though I would love to have a Blackberry Bold, RIM just can't compete with FREE.

Louis Dalesio

March 6, 2009 08:10 AM

Does it make me Will I buy an app that I need or want... of course. Bottom line is I wouldn't trade my Blackberry for any of the other junk you mentioned in the article even if I had to leverage my house to buy the apps. I have had Treos, an iPhone an many others...junk!


March 6, 2009 08:11 AM

It seems to me that the marketing folks at RIM need to get out more. Like the head of citibank said a few weeks ago "we just didn't get it" when trying to explain the recent purchase of a 50M corp. jet with bail-out funds. The RIM folks need to get out from their cubes and take another look at the competition well as the globel econemy.


March 6, 2009 08:16 AM

Interesting, I have both formats from my cell carrier. (ATT) because my spouse likes the iphone I wanted to try BB Bold.
Either phone is wonderful, but with a different flavor and use need. The apps for iPhone are hands down the selling point advantage, bar none....for anyone else to be able to compete on that arena they had better be at least easier to access, use, cost, fun and have a company's support mechanism. Yeh... to both formats. "Make it work BB."

B J Williams

March 6, 2009 08:33 AM

It would appear,just by reading your article that RIM is setting themselves up for a fall.

timo saarelainen

March 6, 2009 08:36 AM

Blackberry owners are older and welthier than the iphone-youth, so I see no problem with the higher price. Really, 3 bucks - who cares? But the paypal part - I don't get it.


March 6, 2009 08:50 AM

RIM is missing the boat here. They do not have the luxury of providing a second rate set of features.

RIM will have just one chance at this. Unlike Apple, there are already too many alternatives to getting SW for the BB. If the App Store is not fantastic I will not waste my time with it.

They nearly blew the Storm launch by releasing it with very buggy OS. Hopefully they will learn from their mistakes.


March 6, 2009 09:21 AM

I think RIM is taking the right approach. They are a premium, business-focused product, they need higher quality and less content. Their primary demographic isn't college students browsing hundreds of apps during a boring class.

Uncle Bernie

March 6, 2009 09:27 AM

Considering these clueless suits never heard of an app a couple of months ago, what do you expect?


March 6, 2009 09:50 AM

I must say I got the blackberry curve because I believed it was solid business phone with tons of good apps. I am completely dissatisfied with it and I can't believe how popular it is.

The email capabilities are what made me buy the phone and they are horrid. The apps are a complete joke and the phone itself is plagued by incredible lag and memory limitations that it’s almost as useless as my old nokia.

If RIM doesn’t step it up and produce a quality phone (ive heard many stories of the newer phones which are just as bad) with quality apps I can't see how they will stay in the game.


March 6, 2009 11:18 AM

I think PayPal is a smart choice - it's by far one of the safest ways to pay online -I've used it for years and have never had a problem. I use the BB Bold, primarily for business use and paying $1 more for an app isn't going to deter me considering how much I already pay for my BB. That being said, if the iPhone was easier to type on (can't stand writing lengthy emails on a touch screen), I would switch happily. My question is when will Apple come out with a phone that has the features of an iPhone but a full qwerty keyboard like a blackberry?


March 6, 2009 01:22 PM

I am new to the Smartphone world after being with Helio (I had an Ocean) for a year.
Nothing was wrong with Helio, I just wanted to try something new.
I have to say, I love my Blackberry! It has me organized in ways I never imagined. Syncing everything isn't a new concept, but being able to do literally everything on a phone is.
Paying 3 bucks for an app I will use isn't a problem for me, as long as I can try it out first to see if it's worth my money. While I am not college age, and I am upper middle class, every dollar counts in times like these.
I also do not like paypal. Third party vendors creep me out and my bank does a great job of protecting me from theft. I don't need someone to "filter" my info.
I am not sure which model of Blackberry 'Frustrated' has, but I have the Curve 8330. I have no lags, no email issues (I keep 5 running at all times), and with the expansion slot I have no memory limitations (I have a 16gig microsd).
All in all, I am keeping my Blackberry and will probably get a few apps from RIM. Also, I will NEVER get an iPhone. I am still wary of touch-screens long term use and abuse rate.


March 6, 2009 01:52 PM

I see the Apple Fan Boys have managed to get a lot of posts submitted.

RIM will do well, and the $3 charge is not a big deal.

I guess iPhone users spend so much on
the phone they cannot afford apps...


March 6, 2009 03:26 PM

IF windows mobile 7 comes without these cost and if they work off commissions only, then i would prefer just that.

I cant wait for windows 7 as i'm primarily a .NET developer. I'm looking to building apps for it that any other platform now. Blackberry might be next on my list but these fees are too high!

Randy Donabedian

March 6, 2009 04:59 PM

I had a Black Berry Storm for two weeks while my wife and kids each had an iPhone. No comparison. I switched and ate the contract left over from my Verizon account, and it was well worth it. Nothing compares to the iPhone.

Constable Odo

March 6, 2009 11:39 PM

It's definitely a bad time to start a store, considering this weak economy. Apple's App Store is fairly entrenched right now because they fortunately got started just before the economy started to seriously tank. BlackBerry's App World is starting so near the bottom that the economy is going to sink further before turning around. They're facing a major crisis in trying to sell apps with little money being spent on non-essentials.

Hey, I heard that BlackBerry Apps can only run on internal memory. That's a nasty restriction for a device that only has about 1 GB of internal memory. Compared to the iPhone's 16 GB of internal memory the BlackBerry seems somewhat cramped if that means anything at all.


March 7, 2009 12:29 AM

OK Apple fanboys,

I have an iphone, great toy. Excellent for multimedia and eye-catching appeal.

But it is not for biz. I mean NO cut and paste?! Joke spell check. Forced to download only through itunes (Unless you jailbreak?). No office software support.

There is no question it's a toy. These things alone will keep my BB in service.


John Atkinson

March 7, 2009 01:16 AM

As an iPhone and Blackberry app developer, RIM is on the right track - the "issues" raised in the story are immaterial.

$200 vs. $100 registration fee is not an issue for developers, and is likely to "thin the herd" so a RIM's team can handle the volume.

A $2.99 one time charge for a good app that solves a problem (which likely cost $20-50k to build)is a non issue.

Millions of people pay $3 for a cup of coffee every day.

Re: PayPal, rumor has it they'll add credit card later.



March 7, 2009 02:25 AM

Apple: 1 billion downloads

RIM: Zero, nada, what's the Japanese word for zero?

Corporate America & RIM: Soon to be bankrupted together.


March 7, 2009 11:37 AM



March 7, 2009 01:40 PM

Paypal - fine
$2.99 - fine
Doesn't support old models? - fine

If you don't like it, don't complain and buy an iPhone! You're missing out!


March 7, 2009 02:48 PM

RIM has one big problem: Their appeal is to corporate types. These folk have less desire to load their phones up with these free and paid apps.

Corporate folk want something that keeps them connected to work and co-workers, clients, etc. Are they going to use up their battery surfing the net, playing games, etc? Short answer: probably not.

I think it's a tough road for not just RIM, but also for Palm.


March 7, 2009 03:33 PM

RIM's phones are too clunky to enjoy anything put tic-tac-toe on.


March 7, 2009 11:44 PM

Most of the people who posted above dont have a clue....i am one of the CORPORATE TYPE often mentioned in the posts, and i have used a BB for the past 10 years. I WOULD NEVER GIVE UP MY BB FOR AN IPHONE (AT LEAST NOT UNTIL ALL THE CRAP ISSUES WITH THE IPHONE ARE ADDRESSED - SECURITY BEING THE FIRST). My wife has an iphone, and its great if you are not in a business environment, but the minute you need to get serious you need a BB. the Iphone itself, without the app store, is useless. Its the apps, written by the 100s and 1000s of independent NON APPLE developers, that have made the iphone a success (even Apple acknowledges this in their latest TV ads). Once the BB app store launches, they will also have the power of all these developers writing apps for the BB.....the big difference will be that ALL of BB's users can and will be able to afford and pay for an app, AND, RIM with its 14 million corporate and other affluent users out there will offer these developers a huge market to go after (much bigger than the iphone market).....if you were an independent app developer, which community would you focus on???????


March 8, 2009 06:36 AM

I dont mind paying $2.99 for an application that is good quality and useful. I find the majority of the 99cent iTunes appl store items cute but useless with only the higher priced apps worth the download.


March 8, 2009 08:09 AM

RIM is off the rockers....
BBs are corporate issues and 8 out of 10 users are carrying BB because it was issued by their company.
So, the IT department is gonna control all the apps that get on a BB, hence, most IT depts preinstall VPN, security, CRM and other corporate apps before the issue.

Not sure if individual users would install apps and later have it removed by IT due to corporate policies.

Karun Appapogu

March 8, 2009 03:49 PM

This is a great news...but is it "mee too" behavior from RIM? Hopefully RIM will establish an ecosystem much similar to Apple. Majority of Blackberry users are enterprise users, who are NOT allowed to download apps on their enterprise the market opportunity is limited consumer devices..which is not RIM's specialty.

Microsoft is also following the same path with 3 stores. Talk about confusion. But do your children come to you asking "Daddy, Daddy I want a Microsoft phone...its so cool". I don't think so.

Android Market on the other hand is going to be successful...just based on the potential market share.

Frank Castle

March 8, 2009 08:27 PM

Call me crazy but isn't PayPal the delfacto standard for buying on Ebay the last few years? Sure having credit card would be a nice option and I'm sure as it evolves it will be added.

Everyone assumes apps will be $2.99. In case you didn't notice there is already a good selection of free apps and many are the same that iPhone sports and due to not having all the iPhone limitations actually work BETTER. Nice being able to have multiple apps running at once (AIM, Twitter, Facebook etc) all while getting push email and able to send a MMS if I ever desired.

iPhone sales are actually flat the past 2 months and will continue to be as iPhone 3 (or whatever they label it - maybe iPhone color) is awaited. Surveys have shown 95% of AppStore users don't use the app more then a couple times and the majority are either free / 99c. Any developer will be cross platform as that just increases your brand and sales (if you are looking to make $$). Mobile app development is really like the Gold rush of old, a few people hit it big and now you have all the panhandlers shifting junk.

And I'm sorry but the 7290 is almost 5 years old at this point, it's nice to upgrade to a new device. Is Apple still putting out Apps for OS 9? Microsoft for Windows 98? Mobile devices have a 2 year contract for a reason usually by the end your ready for a new device (wear / abuse, battery life, new carrier network etc).

Make no mistake this is RIM showing consumers they have other capabilities also, likely any business will be able to block AppWorld if they so choose. Something Apple doesn't provide with iTunes / AppStore.

Any in case you didn't know most current Blackberry apps are 60-350k. So you could add a few dozen and still have room for other content. Is this about adding additional functionality to your device or pokemon card collecting?

How many can you catch?

Kerry Dawson

March 15, 2009 10:52 AM

Hmmm...... I'm a little worried about RIM. They don't seem to be getting it. I prefer BlackBerry over iPhone any day. However, they have to do things so that it is simple like the iPhone or for that matter anything from Apple.

I don't really require much in the way of third party apps for my Bold. The three I have are great and I got them from Handango and it was simple. I would not use Paypal. I've used it as you have to with some things and I don't like it. I don't feel comfortable with this third party service. I can't see why RIM can't do this themselves. That's who I'd feel comfortable buying from and who knows if there were apps there I hadn't thought I needed but thought well that might interesting I could potentially buy beyond my 3. That's what seems to happening with my friends who have an iPhone.

I hope RIM doesn't loose itself in this iPhone march. Others sure have when there is a technology reset.


March 17, 2009 11:12 AM

What is the big deal here. I get good service from my BB (not so much from T-Mobile, I must add) and have little or few needs for wizbang apps. If RIM opens a store, fine, let them, but I imagine it is not a big deal in the strategic plans of RIM. Most BB users I know have little time for apps other than the main ones - email and phone, and some very practical (read useful) apps such as google maps and browsing sports pages.


March 22, 2009 08:23 PM

First off, those that are complaining about the $2.99 prices.. get over it. You have enough cash to front the internet bill but gripe about a whopping $3? Sounds like you shouldn't even have a blackberry in the first place since it is an expensive toy.

Everything is trivial. As long as there's a centralized location, it's all good. Linux distributions have been doing this for years. it's an excellent idea.


March 25, 2009 03:32 AM

BB will eventually surpass the iPhone in terms of being the "it" phone. Watch Apple blow another early lead by lagging in the price and hardware dept. Also, corporate users just don't like the iPhone and will make the RIM app store a HUGE success. Also, Ottawa is just way cooler than the Valley!


March 29, 2009 01:14 PM

Most blackberry users are lifers and will find a centralized app location useful. Then again, most of us have been living with the software makers that have been with us for years.

Give up my Blackberry over an iPhone?!!! Never! - I'll choose function over form anytime; and corporate wise, nothing is better than the Blackberry.


November 29, 2009 12:30 PM

After a very bad experience with Paypal (security and customer service) I will NEVER trust my financial data to that company. If BB "must" use Paypal they should offer other options also. There are a lot of people who have been burned by Paypal.

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BusinessWeek writers Peter Burrows, Cliff Edwards, Olga Kharif, Aaron Ricadela, Douglas MacMillan, and Spencer Ante dig behind the headlines to analyze what’s really happening throughout the world of technology. One of the first mainstream media tech blogs, Tech Beat covers everything from tech bellwethers like Apple, Google, and Intel and emerging new leaders such as Facebook to new technologies, trends, and controversies.



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