It’s safe to assume that, upon hearing the recent news that Blackberry handsets outsold iPhones in 2009 Q1, more than a few people at Apple HQ retorted “Yeah, but WE’VE got thousands of apps for our phone! Nyah, nyah!” (Or to put it another way, they’ve got the guns but we’ve got the numbers…)
There’s no question that Blackberry’s recently-launched App World has miles to go before it matches the inventory — never mind the one-BEELION-and-counting download stats — of the iTunes App Store. But the simple fact of the matter is that some people can’t — or won’t — buy iPhones. It could be the price of the phone itself, the less-than-breathtaking performance of AT&T’s network, or even something as mundane as your day job’s unwillingness and/or inability to support Apple hard/software.
It just so happens that iSmashPhone.com staffer Dactyl Anapest — who’d had bad experiences in his workplace with iTunes screwing up corporate-configured Dell laptops — recently opted to stick with Verizon and upgrade to a Blackberry Curve, giving him hands-on experience with Planet Crackberry’s version of Bed Bath & Beyond. Herein, the strengths — and weaknesses — of Apple’s App Store vs. Blackberry’s App World.
- Shelf display
- “Street Vendors”/Non-store app installation
- Junking it
The App Store exists within iTunes, and iTunes, as we all know, is a big honkin’ desktop program that handles all aspects of your iPhone/iPod. There’s also an App Store icon on your iPhone proper. This way, you can purchase apps from iTunes and install them on your next synch-up, or buy and install ’em over the air.
App World, on the other hand, exists only within the confines of your Blackberry: you download the store app through your ‘Berry web browser and do all your shopping on the phone, without a desk/laptop presence, and all your apps are downloaded and installed wirelessly.
Dactyl actually applied for the App World program through Blackberry’s main web page, which sent a link to his Blackberry email address. The actual download and install of the store app was quick and painless. He then tested the actual shopping process with some no-cost social networking apps (Facebook, MySpace, AIM), all of which also downloaded and installed without a glitch.
Being a desktop-based program, iTunes can display a ton of info on one screen about a given app.
App Store, by necessity, needs a more austere display; it still can display screen shots, reviews, etc., but you have to drill down some levels to get to those options.
App World handles all its paid app checkouts through PayPal, much like an eBay vendor (and yes, there’s a Berry browser-optimized version of PP). Chances are you’ve already got a PayPal account, but if not, you’ll need to sign up for one to make purchases through App World.
Duh. iTunes by a landslide. Then again:
We all know Apple’s views on non-approved iPhone apps. Even with all the automated jailbreaking systems out there, doing down-to-the-bare-metal mods on your iPhone just to run an independent third-party app is still a calculated risk.
Not on the Blackberry. Dactyl, wanting more than the Twitter client choices available in App World, opted instead to install the free Twitterberry. Again, surf to the app’s website on the Berry browser, download and install the app. No jailbreaking necessary.
Early on, Dactyl tried an ad-supported third-party freeware solitaire app. The program, quite frankly, was crap, but in order to remove it from the phone, he had to use the Blackberry Desktop Manager to display the installed programs, de-select the offending game, then waited. And waited. And waited…
On the iPhone, you click on an app you no longer want and hold it for a few seconds. An “X” will appear, and the app is deleted. Gone.
As apples ‘n oranges as this seems, the point is that Apple’s app-selling model is the overall success, and should be what everyone else aspires to. That includes the about-to-be-released Palm Pre, whose App Catalog is in pre-production, and Google’s own Android Market, whch is slowly but surely building up its inventory.
Will any of these App Store wannabe’s be able to boast one day about one BEELION downloads? Only time will tell.