It's nice to see BlackBerry actively improving the App World

Anna Scantlin
Contributing Editor from  Kansas City, MO
| January 19, 2013

I can’t stress enough how important an app store is to a smartphone. Without it, our devices would be nothing but glorified messaging phones. Any time I write about underdog platforms like BlackBerry and Windows Phone, I will generally mention that I think the app store needs to offer more high-demand apps that are seen on Android and iPhone in order to help convert users. While improving the app store is important, let’s not forget that it’s quality that we want to see over quantity; if a platform adds an app store with two billion terrible apps, they’re no better off than when they had two hundred terrible apps.

RIM, however, isn’t messing around this time and is getting pretty serious about the App World with the release of BlackBerry 10.

According to recent news, RIM has decided to pay developers $100 for any approved app ported over for the new BlackBerry platform. Developers are able to make up to $2,000 during this “Last Chance Port-A-Thon” event, they’ve dubbed it, as 20 apps is the max any one developer can submit. To top it off, every developer that port over at least five apps gets entered for a chance to win a BlackBerry 10 Dev Alpha device. While the chance to win the Dev Alpha device is nice of BlackBerry, I can’t help but think that with the launch of BlackBerry 10 just around the corner on January 30th, perhaps an actual finished BlackBerry 10 device would be more appropriate. However, something free is something free and who are we to complain about free things, right?

This weekend, as stated in the very name of the event, is the last time that developers will have the chance to submit their apps for approval to hopefully become featured in BlackBerry’s App World. The event started yesterday around noon and ends tonight (or tomorrow, technically) at midnight. Last weekend, the same “Port-A-Thon” event was hosted and RIM’s vice president of developer relations, Alec Saunders, proudly tweeted that BlackBerry had netted over 15,000 app submissions. While the number seems small in comparison to the huge app markets we see from Android and iOS, it’s no small feat for the Canadian company’s own market; 15,000 apps makes up about 14.2% of the entire BlackBerry App World, which is reported to have over 105,000 apps. The fact that they had 15,000 apps submitted in just two days is impressive for the company, and RIM is hoping to surpass that number this weekend with the “Last Chance Port-A-Thon”. While not all apps will be approved, the more that get submitted means the more possible apps we might see in the App World.

RIM seems to be honing in on all of the elements of the platform that have been lacking pre-BlackBerry 10, and in turn means it could work out very well for them. While I still have doubts in my mind about whether they will succeed or ultimately meet their demise, the actions they are taking to improve the tainted name of BlackBerry are admirable and I won’t be making a final decision without trying a device out for myself.

Before BlackBerry 10, BlackBerry struggled with attaining developer support due to the outdated system and the bright futures that Android and iOS had to offer any developer with a dream. With a refreshed platform that allows developers to work on a same or similar level as its two platform overlords, developer interest in BlackBerry 10 is at least making a small comeback early on in the game, even before the OS has officially been launched. Perhaps this is an omen of good things to come from RIM.