Research In Motion plans to avoid the app overload found in the Android Marketplace by providing cherry-picked titles in BlackBerry App World, the company's head of developer relations has said.
RIM chief executive Thorsten Heins talked up the BlackBerry developer push at DevCon in Amsterdam. Image credit: Ben Woods
Alec Saunders told ZDNet UK the best way to compete with other app stores is to provide a "curated experience", in order to ensure the best performance from each piece of software. He also confirmed that RIM will soon close an authorisation loophole that allows developers to re-package any Android app to run on the PlayBook tablet.
"One of the things we really don't want to be is Android Marketplace. I've talked to lots of people who've owned Android applications, and they say, 'We've got a couple of applications we like, but the rest are all crap'," Saunders said at BlackBerry DevCon Europe on Tuesday.
"If we fill App World with garbage, then we've done ourselves and our users a disservice," he added.
BlackBerry trails Android, and even further behind iOS, in developer-produced software available. On Tuesday at DevCon, RIM revealed that its App World is home to more than 60,000 apps. Its rival iOS and Android app stores have around 500,000 and 300,000 respectively.
However, despite the lower quantity of titles, BlackBerry developers are doing good business, according to RIM. About 13 percent of them have made more than $100,000 (£62,935) via App World — a larger proportion than with Android or iOS, according to the company. In general, prices for BlackBerry apps are higher than their counterparts elsewhere.
Despite the current lag behind rivals, Saunders believes the company's unabashed BlackBerry App World will "reach the inflection point where you have huge numbers of different applications in the store."
The BlackBerry OS has been losing market share, according to a PingCounter report in December. According to the study, RIM's share almost halved from 15.03 percent to 7.86 percent. However, a survey by Check Point Software in January said BlackBerry is close to vying with iOS as the most popular platform among business users, and another from Ovum suggested RIM's OS is gaining ground among developers.
Saunders argued that judging a company on the growth or contraction of market share is a mistake, particularly for a business in a state of flux.
"I don't think expanding share is actually relevant," he said. "We're in a phase right now where we're in between large-scale releases, and in a rapidly expanding market it's unsurprising that our share might dip."
He insisted BlackBerry's developer community will not meet the same fate as Symbian's. Nokia was the prime backer of the mobile OS, but essentially dropped it last year when it adopted Windows Phone as its primary mobile platform.
"We are launching some fabulous new products later this year built on BlackBerry 10, with PlayBook 2.0 being a milestone on the way to reaching that," Saunders said."We're not in the position Nokia found themselves in, where not only did they see their share decline, but they were also haemorrhaging money."
"We're a profitable business. We've got $1.5bn in the bank, and we're in a period of transition," he said.
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