Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 22nd Aug 2013 22:18 UTC
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless

"BlackBerry has a thriving ecosystem with BlackBerry 10." That's what CEO Thorsten Heins said this May at a developer conference before revealing that users had a choice of 120,000 apps from its still-young app market, BlackBerry World. The problem is that over a third of those apps come from a single developer. Yes, a Hong Kong-based company called S4BB has published just under 47,000 apps to BlackBerry World since launch. That's not a good sign of a "thriving ecosystem."

This is what happens when the technology press lets itself be dictated by companies. The companies were the ones who started touting quantity over quality when it comes to mobile application stores, and the press played right into their hands. In a statement to The Verge, BlackBerry confirms the issue, but states that it's not actually an issue at all. Of course they say that. They want to keep touting that number.

Companies wanted this to be a numbers game, and now it is. Go into any mobile application store, and 99.9% of the applications in it are crap. Comparing numbers reveals nothing. It never has, and never will.

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Comment by Drumhellar
by Drumhellar on Thu 22nd Aug 2013 22:27 UTC
Drumhellar
Member since:
2005-07-12

It's the app-store equivalent of the Mhz Myth.

Reply Score: 7

RE: Comment by Drumhellar
by gagol on Fri 23rd Aug 2013 02:58 UTC in reply to "Comment by Drumhellar"
gagol Member since:
2012-05-16

Mapps myth?

Reply Score: 2

Mission Statement
by bram on Thu 22nd Aug 2013 23:21 UTC
bram
Member since:
2009-04-03

Check out the company mission statement:
"To continuously enrich the end-user experience of high quality mobile software."

http://www.s4bb.com/about/

Ha ha ha ha ha.
Quality?
Enrich?

Reply Score: 3

RE: Mission Statement
by kwan_e on Fri 23rd Aug 2013 00:18 UTC in reply to "Mission Statement"
kwan_e Member since:
2007-02-18

It's the fact people use the word "developer" to describe this...

Reply Score: 4

RE: Mission Statement
by sdeber on Mon 26th Aug 2013 15:02 UTC in reply to "Mission Statement"
sdeber Member since:
2005-07-06

I suspect this company is just an agent who subcontract projects to individual developers.

Reply Score: 1

All app stores are cesspools
by gan17 on Fri 23rd Aug 2013 01:17 UTC
gan17
Member since:
2008-06-03

I reckon that even Apple and Google will need to start cleaning out their app stores in the near future. Just way too many useless apps in both of them.

Reply Score: 4

WGAF?
by gagol on Fri 23rd Aug 2013 01:22 UTC
gagol
Member since:
2012-05-16

Seriously, do you need a million apps to be happy? No, you need the right apps. That being said, I have no clue what so ever about the quality of apps. (Metrics are relative)

Reply Score: 4

RE: WGAF?
by Delgarde on Fri 23rd Aug 2013 02:33 UTC in reply to "WGAF?"
Delgarde Member since:
2008-08-19

Seriously, do you need a million apps to be happy? No, you need the right apps. That being said, I have no clue what so ever about the quality of apps. (Metrics are relative)


They *do* need the right apps, but don't underestimate the value of numbers. Even if 99.99% of them are crap, a platform with a million apps looks stronger than one with a smaller number of better apps. It's about credibility, a demonstration that more developers choose to develop on your platform than your rivals.

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: WGAF?
by Nelson on Fri 23rd Aug 2013 10:24 UTC in reply to "RE: WGAF?"
Nelson Member since:
2005-11-29

Developers hate crowded stores, look at how horrendous discoverability is for the saturated stores. Its hard to get visibility without a boatload of cash.

More important metrics are downloads, trial conversion rates, app installs per user, transaction sizes over a period of time, etc

App number count is a zero sum game, it can show momentum, but not to a significant extent.

Reply Score: 3

Utterly Devoid of Logic
by jared_wilkes on Fri 23rd Aug 2013 02:58 UTC
jared_wilkes
Member since:
2011-04-25

The argument that BlackBerry is victim to the desire to make number of apps a significant indicator, or at least a PR tagline, is utterly devoid of logic.

The whole idea of "the companies" is such a blatant red herring, that claiming so makes your whole argument fall apart. We know you really mean APPLE. But, of course, Apple had as many apps as BB has now five years ago. Is a 1/3 of Apple's App Store from one developer? Was that ever the case? At any point in time? They were the first and the loudest, trumpeting the metric for the longest time... Shouldn't they be the worst affected? How about Google Play? They quickly followed on the numbers game... No? Windows? They've been the most aggressive in paying and enticing developers to boost numbers... No?

So what makes BB the sole victim of what "these companies" intended?

Is it that BlackBerry is the victim of some intent of "the companies" that has been parroted and perpetuated by the media? Or is the simple reality that they've only attracted a few thousand developers; one of them is extremely, prolificly spammy enough to produce the lion's share of apps; and they don't have the balls to kick him out? (Also, remember in the first two years when Apple did kick out the apps from Indian developers who were just doing what this developer does? Yeah, evil... Or not so much.)

Edited 2013-08-23 03:05 UTC

Reply Score: 0

Comment by Nelson
by Nelson on Fri 23rd Aug 2013 03:06 UTC
Nelson
Member since:
2005-11-29

This isn't something that BBRY appreciates or necessarily intended to happen, its a "developer" gaming the system by manufacturing template apps in order to extract revenue.

It happens on all app stores to varying degrees, on the BB10 marketplace it is obviously an extreme.

What is telling from this though is the true state of affairs for the BB10 ecosystem, and that is that there has been no uptake. That's despite there being an approach that many on this website have been advocating.

Here we are, and BBRY is smoldering. The antithesis to Nokia. They choose their OS over Windows Phone, tried to bootstrap an ecosystem on their own, and seem to be completely failing. The company will likely end up being split up and sold for parts (again, what some argued would happen to NOK, but has not.)

What's significant is that it shows that the struggles in the mobile space are not due to the choice of an OS, but due to structural inefficiencies in the market. Its hard to gain a foothold, much less without a boatload of cash and persistence. Microsoft is having a hell of a time with unlimited money, BBRY certainly wasn't going to last long enough to make a long term play without some decent momentum.

There was hope (in fact hope I took seriously) that they did have this momentum. Successful "port-a-thons", a decent OS, existing mindshare, etc. However it seems in hindsight that those were hollow advantages.

They proudly thumbed their nose at Windows Phone last year, and now they embarrassingly put themselves up for sale for trying to do the impossible and failing. Meanwhile, Nokia, that reviled evil company run by that mean Trojan horse CEO is poised to increase their volumes sequentially. Again.

Edited 2013-08-23 03:07 UTC

Reply Score: 1

RE: Comment by Nelson
by Kivada on Fri 23rd Aug 2013 04:03 UTC in reply to "Comment by Nelson"
Kivada Member since:
2010-07-07

Since when is Windows Phone and RT not a smoldering pile of failure? Crackberry is no better, but neither is doing particularly well.

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: Comment by Nelson
by Nelson on Fri 23rd Aug 2013 10:17 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by Nelson"
Nelson Member since:
2005-11-29

Since the volumes for Windows Phone seriously started taking off towards the end of last year and the beginning of this year.

How many quarters in a row does Nokia need to post double digit percentage increases to break your narrative?

They are poised to increase volumes again in Q3 significantly, all on the eve of even more product launches in Q4 and the holiday season.

So while Nokia is releasing new phones, apps, and updates every two months, there's no guarantee BBRY will be here as we know it two months from now.

People here need to put down their Windows hater glasses and start thinking critically. I must admit, I've been thoroughly enjoying the unraveling of peoples preconceived notions as Nokia pushes forward.

Reply Score: 3

RE[3]: Comment by Nelson
by Thom_Holwerda on Fri 23rd Aug 2013 11:28 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by Nelson"
Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

From 3% market share to 3.6%.

Onward!

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: Comment by Nelson
by Nelson on Fri 23rd Aug 2013 11:40 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Comment by Nelson"
Nelson Member since:
2005-11-29

They outgrew the market, increased volumes, ramped out their product line up, and have been snatching up enterprise deals left and right.

3.0 to 3.6 includes markets they don't compete in, or have ever been competitive in.

I think there's a reason you don't break things down regionally. Windows Phone and Nokia have significantly increased their share in many European regions. That would mess up the picture you've been so desperately trying to paint.

I'm just wondering at what point do people stop believing the snarky lead ins or the silly projections and start looking at the facts. It is a fact Lumia has grown significantly in the past few quarters. It is a fact that BBRY (which did the opposite strategy) is about to be chopped up and sold for parts.

Those are the inconvenient truths you hide from. Maybe not every Nokia quarter has been ad disastrous as you try to paint it. Anyway, October 19th isn't too far off, so I eagerly await your spinning their results.

The story has evolved from Windows Phone/Lumia isn't selling, to they're not selling enough, to their not growing their share astronomically fast enough to move the needle. I didn't think I had to remind you how fast the smartphone market grew in 2012, so outpacing that is definitely quite the achievement.

Reply Score: 3

RE[5]: Comment by Nelson
by Thom_Holwerda on Fri 23rd Aug 2013 11:52 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Comment by Nelson"
Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

I don't break down per region because doing so is disingenuous. Apple does it all the time, making the mindless Apple fanatics think Apple is doing great just because it's doing well in the US - even though it's tanking everywhere else. Why would I employ a different policy for Windows Phone? Just to make you happy?

We've been told for years now that the *next* Lumia will turn everything around. That Lumia is yet to arrive. It's gonna be the next one, right? for reals?

Reply Score: 4

RE[6]: Comment by Nelson
by Nelson on Fri 23rd Aug 2013 12:07 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: Comment by Nelson"
Nelson Member since:
2005-11-29

You've been told the next one will be better and will increase volumes? That is how iterations on a product work, and I think they've done that each time as evidenced by the volume pick up from Q412 - Q213.

I think a global market share statistic doesn't really speak to progress made in the near term given their skew I mentioned earlier. The regional stats are similarly misleading, but I think in this case there's enough regional markets doing well to be able to counterbalance that. At any rate, it wouldn't hurt to include both sets for perspective.

And it wouldn't be to please me, as I'm not the only one you're misleading, but you can do as you please. I'm just noting that many, many regions in Europe, Asia, and Latin America paint a different picture.

Reply Score: 3

RE[5]: Comment by Nelson
by MOS6510 on Fri 23rd Aug 2013 11:59 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Comment by Nelson"
MOS6510 Member since:
2011-05-12

My Lumia 800 is a company phone, although I did pay extra to get it and not settle some cheap crappy phone.

When it's time to get a new phone I'd go for a Lumia again.

Reply Score: 2

RE[6]: Comment by Nelson
by Nelson on Fri 23rd Aug 2013 12:08 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: Comment by Nelson"
Nelson Member since:
2005-11-29

I really wish they'd go back to the 800s form factor. It was perfect.

Reply Score: 3

RE[7]: Comment by Nelson
by MOS6510 on Fri 23rd Aug 2013 12:13 UTC in reply to "RE[6]: Comment by Nelson"
MOS6510 Member since:
2011-05-12

Yes, it's rather nicely shaped and feels nice when held. Nicer than the iPhone 5 if I compare them now in a non-scientific experiment.

Reply Score: 3

RE[5]: Comment by Nelson
by tylerdurden on Fri 23rd Aug 2013 18:40 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Comment by Nelson"
tylerdurden Member since:
2009-03-17

Have you considered the possibility that you could very well be projecting your own selective reading and parsing of facts, in order to make your pro-nokia narrative work as well?

Reply Score: 1

RE[6]: Comment by Nelson
by Nelson on Fri 23rd Aug 2013 18:43 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: Comment by Nelson"
Nelson Member since:
2005-11-29

Yes.

Reply Score: 2

RE[7]: Comment by Nelson
by tylerdurden on Fri 23rd Aug 2013 19:34 UTC in reply to "RE[6]: Comment by Nelson"
tylerdurden Member since:
2009-03-17

in that case, that's a positive development then.

Reply Score: 2

RE[5]: Comment by Nelson
by Bill Shooter of Bul on Mon 26th Aug 2013 04:42 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Comment by Nelson"
Bill Shooter of Bul Member since:
2006-07-14

When Lumia sales eclipse the sales that Symbian had in 2007 ( or what ever their peek was) . That's when a lot of people will say that windows phone has made it. Despite the increase in Lumia sales, it has't replaced symbian profits or market share. That's why people are calling it a failure. If nokia were a start up similar to Jolla, they'd call it a success. But they destroyed an existing business to build what is for now a smaller one.

Reply Score: 2

RE[6]: Comment by Nelson
by Nelson on Mon 26th Aug 2013 11:48 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: Comment by Nelson"
Nelson Member since:
2005-11-29

That's an absurdly high metric, but if some people feel the need to put their heads in the sand until then, then that's on them.

Obviously before that happens (if it happens, too early to tell), there will be crucial milestones along the way. As I've always maintained, Nokia is executing on a transition strategy, so you won't see any of what you want happen over night. It is gradual, they have the essentially claw back share in key markets to get there. Is it possible? Who knows, I certainly don't, its hard to track these kind of trajectories without looking like a silly analyst.

What is happening, what there is proof of, and what some here hate to acknowledge is that Windows Phone is growing in both shipments and market share (I guarantee you if market share held steady or dipped Thom would use it to beat WP over the head with). Nokia has a financial position that is stabilizing by the quarter.

Not to say there are not challenges, to keep up the pace id expect anywhere from 9-10M Lumia shipments in Q3 to lead strongly into Q4s holiday season. Those are my personal metrics to indicate to me the strategy is going well.

Reply Score: 2

RE[7]: Comment by Nelson
by Bill Shooter of Bul on Mon 26th Aug 2013 19:43 UTC in reply to "RE[6]: Comment by Nelson"
Bill Shooter of Bul Member since:
2006-07-14

Ignore the specifics of the case, and try to see it without any blinders on.

Company A made product X and sold 1000 units per quarter. It then stopped making product X in favor of product Y which now sells 100 units per quarter, up 1000% since the switch.

If you view it that way, it looks like product Y is a failure.

Reply Score: 2

RE[6]: Comment by Nelson
by zima on Thu 29th Aug 2013 18:11 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: Comment by Nelson"
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

Though keep in mind that Symbian handsets never were a profit centre for Nokia - being only a minority of what Nokia sold, and having disproportionally huge costs (in 2007 or so the R&D budget of Symbian alone was greater than the entire R&D of Apple). Series40 handsets is what kept Nokia afloat all those years.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Comment by Nelson
by ilovebeer on Fri 23rd Aug 2013 04:13 UTC in reply to "Comment by Nelson"
ilovebeer Member since:
2011-08-08

What's significant is that it shows that the struggles in the mobile space are not due to the choice of an OS, but due to structural inefficiencies in the market. Its hard to gain a foothold, much less without a boatload of cash and persistence. Microsoft is having a hell of a time with unlimited money, BBRY certainly wasn't going to last long enough to make a long term play without some decent momentum.

It's more complex than being just a money game. And also the fact that Microsoft is struggling has more to do with absolutely horrible leadership than it does anything else. If they had good people making good decisions, they wouldn't be blowing through piles of cash.

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: Comment by Nelson
by Nelson on Fri 23rd Aug 2013 10:19 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by Nelson"
Nelson Member since:
2005-11-29

It depends, some bad decisions were more consequential than others. I think it is a valid point to, I just don't know how large of a difference itd make, or if they'd be spending a lot less as a result.

Reply Score: 3

RE[3]: Comment by Nelson
by ilovebeer on Fri 23rd Aug 2013 17:01 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by Nelson"
ilovebeer Member since:
2011-08-08

It depends, some bad decisions were more consequential than others. I think it is a valid point to, I just don't know how large of a difference itd make, or if they'd be spending a lot less as a result.

Since it's impossible to gauge what they would be spending under better leadership, I should have said they would be getting better return-on-investment. I didn't mean to downplay the importance of investment but I do believe they would be getting more and paying less. Bad business decisions tend to have financial consequences.

Reply Score: 2

Shogi
by MOS6510 on Fri 23rd Aug 2013 06:38 UTC
MOS6510
Member since:
2011-05-12

Just search for "Shogi" (Japanese chess) in the app store and in the WP market.

It seems there is only one Shogi game (not variants) in the WP market and it requires 2 human players while there are several in the app store that don't need the proximity of fellow humans to play (ideal for Spacers).

And there are other examples of searches that yield a number of valid option in one store and almost none or vastly inferior ones in another.

I have no Android device, but when I helped out Android users I came across a couple of truly terrible apps. One misled me in to thinking it was a 90's Geocity webpage, but in fact it was a settings screen with an add banner(!?) and some awfully designed buttons while providing no feedback if it was indeed doing what it needed to do.

The total number of app doesn't make it a certainty that there are more better ones, but reality in this dimension has shown that some stores do offer (more) better apps than others.

Reply Score: 3

Neolander
Member since:
2010-03-08

What fascinates me about third party apps on phones is that most of the time, these seem only to exist in order to fix the issues of the underlying platform.

Take Instagram, as an example. I've been long wondering why people would want an app that merely duplicates the basic photo-editing capabilities of most modern cellphones OSs. Only recently did I find out that iOS's bundled photo editor was extremely crude, much more so than its cousins on other platforms. Now I know how this thing became popular.

If I take a quick look at the apps which I installed myself on my dying Android cellphone, I'll find an office suite and a PDF reader (because Android does not support common e-mail attachments properly), software to backup SMSs, calendar events and contacts without going through Google's servers (because you can't do that natively), a tool to flush the battery calibration data as it curiously tends to auto-corrupt over time on that OS, an app store that offers other payment options than insecure banking cards... Well, you get the idea.

The only things which I wouldn't expect to find pre-installed or available on a website are a language-learning app (because mobile SoCs and network connections are too underpowered for doing it on a website), a timer that makes ticking noises (because that's fun and reminds you that it's running), and an app that displays up-to-date timetables about French trains (which curiously aren't easily available on the SNCF website).

Looking at others' phones running various OSs, I'll find the same patterns : mostly functionality that should really be supported by the OS natively or done through a website, some stuff that can't be done online due to hardware limitations, a couple of gimmicks, and the native code equivalent of Flash games (because, you know, Flash player doesn't run well on phones).

On tablets, I see the point of third-party apps more easily, as they enable some tricks that cannot be trivially done using websites or bundled apps, such as image or audio manipulation or other moderately complex content editing. But on small-screen phones, is there a good reason for their existence? Or are they just a source of platform bugfixes, funny gimmicks, annoying "Hey, we also have an app!" pop-ups on websites, and endless number bragging contests between OS manufacturers ?

Edited 2013-08-23 07:10 UTC

Reply Score: 6

MOS6510 Member since:
2011-05-12

I think default apps should be "just good enough", because even that is more than most people need.

Third party apps can provide all the extras and power features for those who really require it. There is no need to fill up the memory of your device with so much stuff most people won't ever (or can't) use.

Reply Score: 2

Neolander Member since:
2010-03-08

I think default apps should be "just good enough", because even that is more than most people need.

Third party apps can provide all the extras and power features for those who really require it. There is no need to fill up the memory of your device with so much stuff most people won't ever (or can't) use.

Which memory are you trying to save up here?

I'm pretty sure that you won't fill the multiple gigabytes of modern devices' mass storage with the typical OS-bundled apps, unless of course the OS is developed by Microsoft and/or has to support several decades of constantly deprecated frameworks and APIs.

As for RAM, it is true that it is a bit more of a scarce resource on lower-end devices with 512 MB and such. But I guess that if a little bit of thought went into app modularization, it would be possible to reduce the impact of unused feature to near zero.

Myself, the main drawback which I'd see to an iterative improvement of the OS-bundled apps, is that it would cost cost OS development time, which couldn't be spent on the next shiny feature. Users don't notice gradual polishing nearly as much as major changes, even if they also despise the bugs that such changes will inevitably bring.

Edited 2013-08-23 11:18 UTC

Reply Score: 3

MOS6510 Member since:
2011-05-12

It takes many more human resources to do an Instagram than a basic photo editor.

This would raise the price of the device and most people would be paying for stuff they'd never use. There will be more bugs and worse: security exploits. The software would be less easy to use and would probably be overwhelming for a lot of people.

Stuff like Pages, Numbers, Keynote, iMovie, Podcasts, etc... isn't included by default either.

I think it's better to have a phone that covers the basics well and leave it to third parties to provide apps for people with interest in those areas so they can install Instagram or not, or something else.

BTW I've installed Instagram last week!

Reply Score: 3

Nelson Member since:
2005-11-29

Are you aware that Instagram is an entire social network with tens of millions of people? Its much more than photo editing (given that it doesn't even do that to a major extent).

Apps can fill platform holes, augment platform capabilities, or even extend the platform feature set.

Reply Score: 3

Neolander Member since:
2010-03-08

Are you aware that Instagram is an entire social network with tens of millions of people? Its much more than photo editing (given that it doesn't even do that to a major extent).

Of course, it is also yet another photo sharing service. But I don't think this is the main reason why people started to use it initially, since they already had lots of other options for that available before. Think imageshack, Flickr, blogs, Facebook...

On the other hand, I've noticed that some iPhone users make quite a powerful mental association between editing photos on their devices and installing Instagram. So the software's basic filtering capabilities, as limited as they are, truly seem to be a strong selling point.

Apps can fill platform holes, augment platform capabilities, or even extend the platform feature set.

Most platforms don't give application developers enough power to truly extend the platform feature set in a seamless fashion (ie by not having to constantly hunt software in a crowded menu and learning a completely new and alien UI). They do make an exception for media sharing services, though, for some reason.

The main counterexample that survived to this day is Android, and by using it, one can understand why such a level of customization is forbidden on other platforms : as it turns out, most application devs are really bad at making quality system software.

Edited 2013-08-24 08:57 UTC

Reply Score: 3

zima Member since:
2005-07-06

software to backup SMSs, calendar events and contacts without going through Google's servers (because you can't do that natively)

What would be its name?

Reply Score: 2

Just don't publish the numbers
by lucas0 on Fri 23rd Aug 2013 08:02 UTC
lucas0
Member since:
2012-04-20

I guess they are mainly ports of Open Source Android Apps, so they wont integrate well into the system.

Anyway, BlackBerry should not publish the number of apps available and rather focus on quality (and point that out instead). Especially since BlackBerry has a focus on business man, where the amount of (mostly usless) apps shouldn't be the main selling point.

Reply Score: 1

Comment by Tractor
by Tractor on Mon 26th Aug 2013 08:15 UTC
Tractor
Member since:
2006-08-18

That's what you get when everything get summarized into a single "Performance Indicator".

Reply Score: 1