BlackBerry App World: One month later

It has now been just over one month since RIM launched its answer to Apple’s App Store, BlackBerry App World, and we thought it would be a good time to check back in with our thoughts on the offering. Of course it’s way too early to reach any real conclusions as App World is obviously in its infancy, but we can still offer our first impressions of the portal, ping a few developers to see how they’re getting along and most importantly, see what you guys think about App World so far. So hit the jump for our thoughts on RIM’s on-device application portal.

The obvious jumping off point is to compare App World with Apple’s App Store. While Apple certainly didn’t birth the concept of an on-device app portal, it most definitely popularized the concept and spawned a new era in the evolution of content delivery. As things stand now, most would agree the App Store has the edge in most (if not all) areas. The reason beyond hype however, is likely the OS. The iPhone allows for a much richer experience on the GUI side of things, and its OS is much, much more spry. Installing an app on the iPhone takes mere seconds and what’s more, you can continue to use the phone while apps are being downloaded and installed. The BlackBerry OS is the polar opposite. Once an app finishes downloading you’re stuck staring at an hourglass — usually for several minutes — while the application installs. To make matters worse, a reboot is required half the time which adds another two to four minutes before you can resume operation. These are issues that have been present since the dawn of BlackBerrys and while they may be addressed some day, it won’t be in OS 5.0.

With that out of the way, we can look at how App World is faring in terms of getting content in front of the eyes of BlackBerry users. This, after all, is the name of the game. On the consumer side of things, App World is a tool that presents quality content to end users in a simple, organized and accessible way. In other words, it allows them to expand the functionality of their handsets in useful ways they might have otherwise been unaware of. On the commercial side of things, App World makes it easier than ever for developers to get their apps in front of a wide audience with minimal effort. The theory of course, being increased visibility will translate into more sales and therefore more revenue for both the developer and for RIM.

So the question becomes, is the advent of BlackBerry App World resulting in more downloads? Rather than speculate, we went right to the horses mouth (or mouths, as it were). We spoke to several developers over the past week or so and asked them a pretty simple question: How has your presence in BlackBerry App World affected sales/downloads so far? The responses we got were overwhelmingly and unanimously positive. Freeware and payware developers alike reported what can only be described as a dramatic impact on downloads. In no uncertain terms, BlackBerry App World is getting the job done.

As would stand to reason, 25 out of 25 applications currently found in App World’s top downloads list are no-cost downloads. The same can surely be said for any application portal. The value in App World for freeware app developers however, lies in the aforementioned increased visibility. As Jonathan Sasse, senior vice president of marketing at Slacker told us, the impact has not gone unnoticed:

We have seen a healthy increase of downloads of the Slacker Radio App since the opening of RIM’s App World. The uptake of our Personal Radio App for Blackberry smartphones has been truly impressive and there is no doubt that App World was instrumental in our reaching over 1 Million downloads.

Despite the understandably exclusive presence of free applications currently found in the portal’s top 25 list, the App World affect is hardly limited to just freeware. Pyxis Mobile, creator of Movela Netflix Queue Manager (formerly SmartFlicks), told us that RIM’s app portal has not only boosted sales but also provided a new source of motivation to diversify the company’s BlackBerry portfolio. Christopher Willis of Pyxis Mobile tells us:

App World has introduced our application to a whole new audience. Coming from only marketing Movela Netflix Queue Manager on the mobility blogs, RIM’s widespread marketing of App World, along with our ‘featured application’ status, has definitely accelerated sales. Based on the initial success, our team is working on a diverse pipeline of useful and entertaining BlackBerry applications that increase efficiency and provide value to users.

While App World still has plenty of growing up to do, it has undoubtedly been a success thus far from both the consumer and developer perspectives. Add some solid development on RIM’s end and work a few carrier deals into the equation and you’ve got yourself a powerful tool that will have a tremendous impact on the BlackBerry application market. That said, we want to hear what you think. Does App World serve its purpose in making it easier for you to discover and obtain new applications for your handset? Does it do so easily and efficiently? Sound off in the comments section below and if you’re a developer who hasn’t yet explored the opportunities App World provides, it might be time to reexamine your strategy.

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