RIM has doubled the number of applications on App World with the library of available titles now coming in at 2,000. At the same time, access to RIM’s App World will soon be expanding to include users from Italy, France, Germany and Spain. In the coming months, access will also extend to include users in Brazil and India.
In contrast, the iTunes App Stores currently has over 50,000 applications available for download. But RIM’s VP of global alliances, Jeff McDowell, doesn’t view the large library of applications available for iPhone users as being that much more advantageous, stating:
I don’t think it matters whether it’s 40,000 or 2,000, you’ve still got a broad range of choice.
Umm, not really.
I’ve had the pleasure of perusing the apps on RIM’s App World, and found that looking for apps was more of an uninformed and convoluted mess than an enjoyable experience. BlackBerry apps, on the whole, are more expensive, and even more problematic, contain a scant amount of information and user reviews. Paying more than 5 bucks for a Wheel of Fortune app when I have no way of knowing if it’s worth it isn’t really a winning proposition for RIM, its users, and its developers. Also, the way App World is set up (viewable only from a phone) makes it frustrating to browse through the various categories and scout out apps that may be of interest. One of Apple’s inherent advantages is the fact that it has a huge installed user-base of iTunes users, and it can leverage that to provide a more enjoyable app browsing experience via the desktop.
To a certain extent, it doesn’t matter how many applications RIM has because its users simply aren’t downloading apps at the frenzied pace that iPhone users are. Developers aren’t a tricky bunch. They want to make money and make their apps available to as large an audience as possible. At this point, there are well over 40 million iPhone and iPod Touch users, many of whom bought the device because of the ability to download apps. The fact of the matter is that RIM simply can’t compete with that eager and app hungry user base.
Whether RIM has 2,000 or 10,000 available apps makes no difference. Apple got out of the gate first with the iTunes App Store, and exceeded all expectations. At this point in time, everybody else is just playing for second.