The day before the quarterly financial results were announced, BlackBerry announced that they would be pre-loading Amazon Store on their BlackBerry 10 devices when the OS version 10.3 is released in the fall. Amazon Store is a branch of Android apps and by providing the store automatically, BlackBerry has made available a large amount (200,000+) of apps for their customers. While this is not the same as having Google Play loaded on the phones, it is probably as close as BlackBerry wants to be to offering an Android phone that is not an Android phone. For Native developers of BlackBerry 10, it is probably too comfy of a deal.
Currently, if an Android developer wished to have their app in BlackBerry World, they would port their app using a tool provided by BlackBerry to create a bar file, which could be uploaded to BlackBerry World. For the most part, porting an app would work without any issues. However, there are many apps that don’t work completely and others that work, but don’t utilize the BlackBerry 10 UI very well. This short coming of ported app left an opening for the developer or another developer to create the app using the BlackBerry 10 Native development tools. BlackBerry would also help the Native apps stand out by offering a Built for BlackBerry sticker for those apps that met the criteria. Getting the Built for BlackBerry certification has been a bit daunting for some developers. But, having the sticker does give the app a benefit when listed in BlackBerry World, for the most part. Even with a small, compared to Apple and Android, app store, apps can still be hidden by the many duplicate apps. Even just having too many apps on a store can cause problems, as the majority of apps are never downloaded. Needless to say, getting your app seen and downloaded is a tough road for developers and BlackBerry’s deal with Amazon, might not be as helpful as they think.
The first issue is; where does the customer go now that there are two stores on their device. According to BlackBerry, the apps on BlackBerry World that are not games or fun or not helpful in productivity, will not be promoted. This is part of BlackBerry’s strategy to win back the enterprise user. My guess is, by making BlackBerry World look as if it only has productivity apps and not a bunch of fart apps, it will give it more of a professional appearance. Which means, if you want games, go to the Amazon Store.
While this is helpful for the Android developer, the Native game developer now has to make sure their game can be ported to Android, less it never get any sort of promotion in BlackBerry World.
The second issue is; what is done with all the Android apps left on BlackBerry World. I sent a tweet to BlackBerry Development asking if they were going to remove the Android apps from BlackBerry World. The reason behind this is simple, the developer no longer has to take the extra step to publish their app for BlackBerry and once the developer does move their app to the Amazon Store, they have no reason to keep up the app on BlackBerry World.
It is unknown how this addition will affect Native apps. But, if BlackBerry wants to encourage developers to continue using their Native tools, it would be helpful if they showed some sort of support by making BlackBerry World for Native apps exclusively. BlackBerry just recently announced to the developers that they were ending support for AIR based apps and that when 10.3 is launched, the apps would simply disappear from user’s devices. If BlackBerry can eliminated one of their first development tools for BlackBerry 10, then doing a complete split between Native and Android shouldn’t be an issue. While some might claim it would alienate Android developers, I contend that they have already alienated those developers who took the time to learn the Native tools. And they have also given the Android developers a step up by basically stating that it is more important to have access to the Android apps than to spend time and money getting them made as Native apps.
I don’t have to spend money on the consumer side. Chen
I believe that Chen should figure out what he can do to make Native developers happy in the next few months. He can start with a clarification of what is an enterprise app and what the future of BlackBerry World will look like. He might also consider that if BlackBerry just became another Android phone company, that they would lose the loyal customers that have stuck with them through this transition and also lose those who switch due to taking a chance on a BlackBerry 10 phone and loving it.