Any BlackBerry “iPhone Killer” will need better access to apps

Jul 29, 2010
Finance

The new BlackBerry phone that Research In Motion (RIMM) and AT&T (T) are expected to unveil next week will need more than touch screen functionality and a slide-out keyboard to win back consumers who converted to the iPhone or Android-based devices. To have any hope of becoming an “iPhone Killer”, as RIM executives are hoping, […]

The new BlackBerry phone that Research In Motion (RIMM) and AT&T (T) are expected to unveil next week will need more than touch screen functionality and a slide-out keyboard to win back consumers who converted to the iPhone or Android-based devices.

To have any hope of becoming an “iPhone Killer”, as RIM executives are hoping, the company’s upcoming 9800 BlackBerry handset and OS 6.0 operating system must feature more than a universal search bar and better integration with Facebook and Twitter. As RIM has learned painfully over the last three years, when consumers choose smartphones, it is increasingly all about the apps.

Relative to Apple’s (AAPL) App Store and Google’s (GOOG) Android Market, the BlackBerry App World store is an insignificant failure. While BlackBerry devices do offer cumbersome access to known titles such as Facebook, PAC-MAN, and Shazam, their limited availability of approximately 7,000 apps is a deal-breaker for consumers who now expect more from their smartphones.

There are currently more than 225,000 iPhone apps and nearly 75,000 Android apps available. These platforms stimulate creative development where apps are introduced each day that make the smartphones that carry them even more intelligent. Developers creating BlackBerry apps are more likely replicating versions from other platforms to expand market share than they are innovating anything within App World.

Implementing touchscreens and additional hardware bells and whistles is only scratching the surface. As displayed with the lackluster commercial success of the touchscreen Storm and Storm 2 phones, RIM needs to replicate the iPhone and new Android hits (including Motorola’s (MOT) DroidX, HTC (2498.TW) Incredible, and HTC Evo) from the inside out if it intends to remain a relevant player in the smartphone market.

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We will find out on Tuesday how seriously RIM takes the app space, and if the 9800 device can even be a nuisance (much less a “killer”) to the iPhone.

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Brad Spirrison

Brad Spirrison is the managing editor of appoLearning and Appolicious Inc. In this capacity, he has sampled and evaluated thousands of iOS and Android applications. He also holds an M.A. in Education and Media Ecology from New York University.

Spirrison worked in concert with appoLearning Expert and Instructional Technology Specialist Leslie Morris while curating and evaluating educational applications.

A longtime media and technology commentator and executive, Spirrison is also a regular contributor to ABC News, The Huffington Post, TechCrunch, Bloomberg West and The Christopher Gabriel Program.

Spirrison is married and lives with his wife and young son in Chicago. As his son was born just weeks before the debut of the iPad, Spirrison takes his work home with him and regularly samples and enjoys a variety of educational applications for young children.

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