Blackberry apps

One of the frustrating things about being a blackberry user (I've tried to move to iPhone twice and Droid twice) is that most of the stuff is there for an awesome mobile experience but RIM just makes it too damn hard to experience it.

A classic example of this is blackberry apps. I got a new blackberry last week (the bold 9700: awesome phone) and have been putting my favorite apps on it.

So far, I have:

Google Maps
Blackberry Messenger
Blackberry App World

I also have a beta version of an app from one of our portfolio companies but I've been asked not to talk about that.

App World isn't as slick as the iPhone app store but it works well. Only problem is it didn't come pre-installed on my phone. How can that be? If you want to compete with Apple, you have to at least bring your 'A game' right out of the box.

While I'm on the topic of the app store, I think its fantastic that Blackberry allows developers to provide downloads of their apps directly from the mobile web. I used App World for some of my apps and the mobile web for others. Both modes work, especially for free apps.

My biggest beef with blackberry apps is the popups they create around trust and security. Its confusing as hell to me to figure out what boxes to check and when to say yes and when to say no. It's like the privacy hell Facebook is putting its users through right now. More options and checkboxes is not better.

Maybe its because of apple's rigorous (and long) approval process, but iPhone apps don't put users through all this trust and security nonsense and I think Blackberry ought to fix this problem.

It's really bad for mobile apps that use a lot of third party apis (something we'll see a lot more of in the near future). Each time the mobile app makes a call to a new api, you get the damn popups. Its a painful experience. And if you want to reset the application permissions, good luck finding the settings to do that which are buried three levels down in advanced settings.

I could go on and on but I'll stop my critique in hopes of keeping this post brief.

Once you get the apps installed and working right, the experience is incredible. Blackberry supports multitasking and so I'm listening to Pandora and BBM'ing at the same time I am writing this post (on my blackberry of course).

The phone is great, the software is powerful, but the browser is awful and the entire user experience is too complicated. Blackberry can and should fix this because iPhone and Droid are coming on strong, even in Blackberry's core enterprise market, and they don't have a big window of time to get it right.

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Comments (Archived):

  1. Mark Essel

    From the sounds of it, they have you locked in You already tried leaving 4 times and came back. Some part of blackberry’s offer is irresistable for you.They can certainly streamline the interface but this could mean architecture changes which could be expensive. Updating via the mobile web sounds more like a normal PC environment and I was hoping for that from droid but they too have “an app store”.I’m trying to imagine how horrible the web would be right now had it an app store 15 years ago.Software contol results in slow updates and shoddy iterations. We want fast turn around, which in your case would result in a stream lined interface.

    1. fredwilson

      the form factor of the blackberry, the raised keyboard, and way it feels in my hands, the ability to type with two hands, and the new trackpad are all irresistable. they make amazing hardware.

      1. Elie Seidman

        It’s so good – they really nail hardware. And I’m always chuckling to myself when I see people in airports with their iPhones plugged into an outlet desperately trying to get their power fix before the flight. Here’s a simple idea: interchangeable batteries.BTW, a quick trick that I’m now using to deal with the AT&T network is locking my BB Bold into 2G (EDGE). It more than doubles my battery life and the network connection stays locked up and stable – unlike 3G. It’s not good for things like Google Maps and browsing (the BB browser is useless anyway) but EDGE is more than fast enough for Messenger, Yahoo IM (another app I use on the BB) and email.

        1. fredwilson

          I laugh at the same desperate iphone users. I keep a second blackberry battery but have only needed it a few times

          1. kidmercury

            i laugh at iphone users too. iphone bashing ftw!!!!!

        2. Druce

          one trick is MiFi – get a Verizon wireless Wifi access point.http://www.verizonwireless….Carry around MiFi, iTouch and T-mobile Blackberry with UMA to make WiFi calls and get the best of all worlds LOL.(OK I haven’t actually done it but plan to in next few weeks)

      2. ShanaC

        People so often forget how much hardware, because it is the point of both input and output, is such a major part of the user experience. Software may bring the hardware alive, but if you have crappy hardware as a friend of mine thinks, you might as well….

    2. Tyler Willis

      BB had me locked in for the last 2 years (in which I attempted to switch to the iPhone three times and to the droid once)I’ve finally been able to switch to the iPhone. It required changing way too many of my habits around email. Although, I feel that the changes I’ve made have been net positive. With a browser in pocket, i now feel comfortable not carrying around my laptop almost everywhere (something I’d bought a Netbook for).Android is the answer here, it has the ability to do everything the iPhone does (good browser, apps, etc) and it has enough hardware providers that I’m hopeful one of them will nail the raised keyboard. I’m even more hopeful that RIM will pare down their software org an just become the worlds best hardware shop built on top of Android (RIMM/GOOG/VZW would be a darn good answer to APPL/ATT)

      1. fredwilson

        I’m with you. Imagine a rim built android phone

  2. Richard Koffler

    I use the BB Storm. Biggest beef: lame memory management, indicative of a time when the phone only ran BB’s built-in apps. I haven’t used iPhone or Android, so I can’t compare, but my sense is that the BB architecture and OS were BB’s biggest strength and now their biggest weakness.

    1. fredwilson

      Seems pretty good on my new phone. I think they’ve upgraded their os

  3. Bora Celik

    Having owned both iPhone and Blackberry, I just can’t stand the usability or design of anything in Blackberry when iPhone experience is exponentially better. The never ending iPhone vs BBerry debate with my friends always end with arguments of their addiction to BBM. They all use BBM, and all of their friends use BBM, and it’s free so why should they go get an iPhone and deal with text messaging they have to pay for. It seems to me that’s the biggest thing that’s going for Blackberry against iPhone.

    1. fredwilson

      Yup. That’s what keeps my two girls on bberry. All of their friends are on it. BBM is an awesome mobile chat/IM service

    2. ShanaC

      They created network effect. And they created it to such an extent that it made the DABA girls blog about proper ettiquette, which brought up two articles……Which I can’t decide what to think about…I mean, that post and the articles it links to shows a huge amount of cultural change…Though I have this weird feeling I will be saying that 50 years from now anyway when my own grandkids are doing all sorts of similarly culturally changing things with technology.

  4. Jevon

    Socialscope really outclasses all other twitter apps on the BB. I think it is the perfect mobile client for twitter.I had an iphone for the first 3 years, then wend to the BB Bold 9000 (I have been eyeing the 9700) and have been really happy. For Email, TXT and IM it is still the best.

    1. fredwilson

      Socialscope is killer. I wish it were out of private betÀ

  5. Jason Devitt

    Most people don’t see the popups that you do Fred. 80% of new BlackBerry devices are sold to consumers, with very few or no default security settings. (Many enterprise users are even worse off than you are; their companies lock down their phones so that they cannot install apps at all.)Appworld is not pre-installed on phones because the largest carriers want to manage their own appstores. There are people at AT&T who deeply resent the fact that Apple gets all the glory for the appstore while they get all the criticism for the network overload. (Remember how much trouble AOL had coping with demand when they switched to flat-rate? People also gave them all the credit for the service when it did work.) Execs at Verizon and AT&T don’t want RIM or Nokia or Google to the same. The Android Market is preloaded on the Droid and the Eris (with a tab dedicated to Verizon-recommended apps), but that’s only because Verizon’s “VCast” application store got pushed back a couple of months.This is understandable, and it’s not a network neutrality issue because they still allow you to download Appworld and to download apps directly from the developer. For their part, Sprint has publicly announced that they will not build their own store and they will enable carrier billing for all; I think T-Mobile will do the same. But for developers and consumers, it’s going to be very confusing. Every store will have different rules, different factors will govern which apps rise to the top, and different billing models available – which means that the business models for our applications may have to vary from store to store.@Charlie Crystle, the user does benefit from being able to get apps directly from the developer. If you’re signing up for a service that bridges the web and mobile phones – like Evernote or Salesforce or Skydeck – the developer can dramatically simplify setup and installation for you by delivering the app to your phone directly. If you are already browsing Facebook on the mobile web, downloading an app should be one click. In a world of multiple competing appstores with different rules, it’s much more complicated to send you to the appstore. On BlackBerry devices, we’d have to start by telling you to download the appstore itself!

    1. fredwilson

      Hmm. I buy my phones at the same stores that those consumers do. I wonder why I get those popups

      1. Jason Devitt

        Not sure what you mean by “each time the mobile app makes a call to a new api, you get the damn popups.” I’ve never seen that myself.If you are talking about one-time requests on install, then yes on both BB and Android phones you often have to give an app permissions. You get similar popups on the iPhone when an app wants access to your location or wants to send you push notifications. If you see more requests on BB/Android, it’s because there are more things that app developers can do – things that we cannot do on the iPhone *with or without* your permission.

      2. ShanaC

        It might be your factory settings…

      3. Kevin King

        The problem with Blackberry network alerts are actually what you and Jason both experience. It can be inconsistent, different on ATT vs T-Mo vs VZW, very confusing to the end user and in some cases, way too many prompts at levels of detail than many (even the developer) may not understand all of them.Often, I’m frustrated from an end user’s perspective, by different installations of the same application behaving differently.

      4. Robert Shedd

        I see a lot of security popups when installing BB apps, as well, Fred. I’m wondering if this is related to the difference between BES (i.e. Exchange) and BIS? I have BES setup and I’ve assumed that this results in higher security enforcement on the device than a standard consumer BIS setup.

        1. fredwilson

          that might be the issue

  6. steveplace

    Have you used sensobi? Or is that the software you won’t talk about?

    1. fredwilson

      I tried it once. I guess I have to try it again. Many props for it in this thread

  7. AndyFinkle

    While I agree ‘less is more’ during an install process – You need to understand that BB’s core strength and routes are in the enterprise – an environment where security is mission critical. I don’t mean to defend BB here – but just another side to view.

  8. Paula Livingstone

    Why the hell are #pandora and #slacker not available outside the US? Come on world catch up with Web3.0. The Blackberry appstore may be “could do better” in the US but it is distinctly patch by geography and my stance with it, UK wise, is a #fail

    1. fredwilson

      Blame the record labels. Its a right issue

    2. kenberger

      I’d rather ask why the hell is *Spotify* not available IN the US. That is a killer offering.

      1. fredwilson

        Can’t make the right deal with the labels

        1. kenberger

          Yes, I was being rhetorical: it’s the same answer as the one to her original Q.

  9. julie_poplawski

    So true, and if you are trying to do all that while driving it is really treacherous! Sending this post to my twitter-app developer. Thanks!

    1. fredwilson

      I don’t tweet, text, foursquare, facebook, bbm, or anything when I driveVoice is the only app I use behind the wheel and that is handsfree via bluetooth

  10. Elie Seidman

    I have an iPod touch and the old Blackberry Bold (is that what you had before the 9700?). I also just recently bought and returned the Droid. It was a nice enough looking phone and the Verizon network is great but I need a keyboard and the Droid keyboard is not even in the same sport as the BB keyboard and the touchscreen is not as good as the iPhone/touch screen so it was too much of a compromise. Since I can’t use an iPhone (no keyboard), i’ve come to accept that I’m going to continue to be a BB person and I’ve also been playing around more and more with the apps on the Blackberry. The blackberry app store did not exist on my Bold until I upgraded the OS about a month ago. I then discovered it there and it’s good as you say. In addition to what you’ve got, I’ve got the following apps- Gmail- Weatherbug- Facebook- Bolt browser-Yahoo IM- WikimobileI very much want Google analytics on the BB. My assessment is that BB was behind on apps but is making a good comeback. With so so many BBs already in users hands, it’s hard for developers to not consider the BB when developing an app – so long as BB makes it enticing to do so. I think that BB is going to make a bright comeback in the coming years.

    1. ShanaC

      I did headcounts on the LIRR of smartphones for a few days over the summer. There were definitely times where it was only blackberries. I know that one of the reasons devleopers hate it is that it is difficult to market onself, the stack (a java based stack) is apparently difficult to work with, plus making web based apps that function well and look good just seem to be problematic.All that being said, many people can’t live without the keyboard, and it is a top selling enterprise phone, which many people don’t give up afterwords. I’m surprised more people are not positioning themselves as enterprise level app makers. Just seems odd…

      1. fredwilson

        I asked the young lady in the tmobile store what smartphones were selling. She said:’We don’t sell too many of those google phones. Mostly blackberries. We are going to get the iPhone next year’

        1. ShanaC

          I’m currently phoneless *sigh* My red blackberry curve’s (8830) port broke (apparently a common problem, I checked the interweb, they don’t use a strong enough solder in a central enough location and then don’t use glue around the opening of the port, so that the port stays stable to the phone), and even them checking to fix it costs $50.Either way, I’m suprised that more developers don’t do what either you and I are doing, taking random headcounts, asking actual stores in their area..I know that comscore is providing data about new smartphone buys, but that still doesn’t cover all the old smartphones out there… (FYI, Dear Sprint this is a stupid policy, and you should auto insure the phones…)

        2. kenberger

          It would be interesting to ask the same Q in a Sprint and in a Verizon store. The answers should be about the same at Sprint, bit better at VZW.And from the developers’ perspective: iphone apps bring in about $200M/month now, Android <$5M, according to that’s just today…

      2. Elie Seidman

        Until someone comes up with a keyboard and hand feel better than the BB, I’m a BB person. I tried the iPhone and the Droid – no go.

        1. ShanaC

          The touschscreen is helpful for certain user interface reasons (no lie it is, it is much easier to move stuff around a screen with a finger or hand. It’s why mice are a lot more popular than trackballs)That being said, Blackberries tend to be the right size, weight, formfactor and the keyboards are well designed, which is a good thing for those who type. It really isn’t a pure OS thing- many people do not like the learning curve for something badly designed for their hands. Having a great sparkly OS helps once you pass that barrier, which is why we are all standing around debating Blackberry, droid, Iphone?The big problem is size. You can’t cram everything in and still have a workable machine. We’re trying, but until there is a mysterious leap in technology that allows better touch screens that make you see better or for a touch screen with give when you touch it so you know you are touching it, the whole experience will be messy.Now I just wished I had a functioning phone period. Not even a smartphone, just a phone.

  11. Joe

    I download the Blackberry app store to my Storm and it slowed the processing speed and performance down by over half. I “unloaded” and it works fine. Luckily, it’s my work bberry…but still…I agree. If RIM is going to compete….

  12. A Reader

    If you think Droid is coming on strong, you should wait for the rumored Google Phone. (… Looks like it won’t have a hardware keyboard, but multitasking will be a breeze. It may move you off Blackberry for good.Re: core enterprise market, you are spot on about RIM not having a big window of time to get it right. The rumored Google Phone looks promising for enterprise market as well.

    1. fredwilson

      The only thing that will move me off bberry is an iphone with a keyboard or a rim device running android

  13. Donna Murdoch

    I find the same problem Fred. I have the 9700 as well (after carrying both the iPhone and my Bberry for 2 years and finally giving up the iPhone), with Social Scope and many of the apps you mentioned. I am totally confused when I get the pop up box asking about setting, making me wonder if I am disabling something I need for something else. Google Voice and Flickr apps are also very good. But they should make the installation seamless. I love the way the 9700 feels, the keyboard, etc. Great sale at ATT now, 1/2 off on all Blackberry models.

    1. fredwilson

      Yes. It feels like it fits in the hand. iPhones don’t feel that way

  14. Michael D.

    It must be tough when someone completely changes the market on you. It happens in technology every 10 years or so. RIMM, NOK, etc. were too busy milking their profits and AAPL changed the game on them. RIMM is fortunate that it has dedicated user base. NOK & PALM aren’t as lucky. The smartphone market is too large to be dominated by one player. GOOG has the might to keep AAPL honest. There will be a third major player. If RIMM is to be that player it has about 2 years to get its act together. The infatuation with a keyboard is diminishing each year and sooner or later there will be an iPhone on VZ.

    1. fredwilson

      I agree. But count me as still infatuated with the keyboard

  15. kenberger

    If you think RIM makes it too hard and frustrating for the user, try being a BB developer. Our dev group is doing great with WebOS, iPhone, and some Android. But BB usually brings the most challenge.Couldn’t agree with you more re hardware, in my mind BB is good for 1 and only 1 thing: email. And while I love my Droid’s browser, it’s current Exchange implementation is awful, a total show stopper all around.So rather than carry an extra battery, I just carry an extra phone. Holstered BB for all things PIM (email, calendar, contacts), and a Droid or iPhone for apps and surfing. Sometimes I’m tempted to carry all 3: iPhone is unbeatable for restaurant info (Yelp, Urban Daddy, Urbanspoon), while android will continue to get astoundingly innovative apps (check out Google Goggles– unbelievable new app!)Google Voice makes the phone calls and sms, both in and out, fairly seamless these days.I know: this multi-phone solution is easy for *me* to say, since I get to use loaned equipment, but still…

    1. fredwilson

      I’m hearing the same thing from our portfolio companies about developing for blackberry. Its not easy and rim isn’t as helpful as they need to be

      1. kenberger

        … which is actually an oppty for us for our mobile dev business: RIM has been a client of mine off and on for 10 years and almost bought our company then. The connections help, for this platform. And there’s no shortage of BB dev work vs folks who can actually deliver it well.It’s kind of like being a dentist: he’s the only 1 who benefits from people eating poorly 🙂

  16. Prakash

    It might be right to also bring in the developers perspective here. Developing BB apps is also very difficult/annoying as compared to IPhone and Android.IPhone and the folks at Apple have surely got it right in both aspects and have scored over BB.

    1. fredwilson

      Right. I hear this from our portfolio companies

  17. ShanaC

    One last note: Because of the fact that both the permissions are difficult to work with, and the phone is difficult to program for, it makes it difficult to understand what went wrong with your program from a user’s point of view.I had a wordpress application released from wordpress that I never got to work, and I never understood what setting I needed to fix. This is not something that should have been complicated, but it was….

  18. kidmercury

    so many problems with mobile. that’s why as promising as mobile is, i still have trouble getting really excited about it, especially in the US. so many obstacles from all different directions.

  19. adamhanft

    And the iPhone transaction engine is their iTunes store, embedded and intuitive, vs RIM’s reliance on PayPal.The irony, of course, is that Charlie’s point about the BB open model is that their brand aesthetic is corporate and closed, so iPhone’s poppy intimacy trumps reality.

  20. Aaron Klein

    Great post. You and I have talked about this before – a new BlackBerry OS built on Android or Palm WebOS or something more modern would be awesome.The security questions seem to be a great tradeoff for the openness of the platform. It’s like a computer – I install what I want when I want.That being said, I don’t have nearly the security questions you do. Whenever I install an app, it says “ABC app wants to change security settings”, I hit view and then I hit save. Then it downloads and installs.Then it pops up the first time (sometimes for 4 or 5 different things…”permission for http”, “permission for SMS”, etc.) and I always scroll down and check “always allow ALL requests”, which is not the default. After doing that, I’ve never had an app ask me for permission on the second use.I agree with you on watching iPhone folks on the charging line, but you also get WAY less e-mail from them. My best estimate is that I’m 14X more efficient typing on the BlackBerry with the beauty of their hardware. I base this off the fact that I sent 500 iPhone e-mails in the course of 12 months, while I sent 7,000 e-mails on my BlackBerry the year prior.That’s what brought me back to BlackBerry in November 2008 for the Bold 9000 and they can pry it out of my cold, dead fingers. Until something that is actually better comes along. iPhone isn’t it.

  21. Druce

    Blackberry has a pretty good lock on the enterprise, and Apple has the consumer pretty wrapped up.Blackberry has a huge lead on enterprise features, integrating with Windows (BES 5 gives shared Windows folders, sync Exchange public folders, other long-requested features), security, pushing apps and security policies out to users, provisioning/wiping lost devices etc.Apple isn’t built from the ground up around that. Android may be too open and vulnerable to malware so you can’t give it access to enterprise data and resources.Blackberry is doomed with consumers. It’s way too hard to develop software for. It’s way too hard to use. I would tell people one reason I didn’t get iPhone is because I invested so much in learning Blackberry (unusable without strong command of shortcuts), and they would look at me like I had two heads because there is no iPhone learning curve. Sucks for Blackberry because that’s where all the growth is, but I can’t see them keeping any momentum.Apple should have the consumer locked up. But there is a window for Google because of the app store policy, the control freak in charge of the platform, and the exclusive deal with AT&T. The question is whether the phone companies hate Apple enough, and whether Google can offer them a good enough deal and ecosystem to sink Apple. Obviously it’s better for the phone companies if Google can pay them a vig on local search, than if Google has to pay Apple. Google has to do to iPhone what Microsoft did to Apple in desktops. They need Apple to remake the same mistakes, which so far is happening.It’s classic innovator’s dilemma around the mobile / cloud vs. PCs. You can keep adding features to iPhones and Androids, build tablets and book readers, and users will question need for PCs. Meanwhile Microsoft/Blackberry are responding to the needs of their enterprise customers and needing to evolve an insanely complex platform with backward compatibility.

    1. fredwilson

      well blackberry is far from doomed among teenage and college girls. i seemany of them because of my girls and they all use blackberries because ofBBM

      1. Druce

        Blackberry Messenger? I guess Apple/ATT were pretty slow with ability to MMS pictures, but never seen BBM as a killer app vs. SMS or other IMs.What am I missing – no SMS charges but you can only talk to other Blackberries?My limited experience with teenage girls is receiving trash talk about using a Blackberry vs. iPhone LOL.every app I’ve tried that has both iPhone and Blackberry version, the iPhone version is better.tough choice if you’re a developer: build for RIM with multiple OSes and devices with different capabilities, poor support; or build for iPhone with dictatorial control and possibility of arbitrary rejection…

        1. Druce

          analogy that popped into my head: Blackberry = Myspace, iPhone = FacebookLack of viable Blackberry app ecosystem -> limited appeal outside core market(even if most apps inexplicably tell me someone milked a cow or who they were in a past life)If you gave a Blackberry and iPhone to 10 average users (not enterprise users or ubergeeks) for 2 weeks, I think 8 would pick iPhone. (possibly most of the ubergeeks and enterprise users too, if they had freedom to choose)RIM has a short window to turn it around and a lot of baggage.

  22. tonypry

    Fred, I would be interested to see what you think of the ExSafe on App World, it allows the creation and editing of ‘documents to go’, preinstalled on all devices, and stores the content in the Cloud. Available in association with if you are a user of that service!

    1. Matthew Tendler

      Amongst my peer group (25 year old, professionals, NY), BBM is definitely the killer App that is keeping them on Blackberry. However, I see a trend that’s moving away from the BBM communication. More and more of my friends are moving to iPhone/Droids as they are getting sick of the constant communication/vibrating/”D” and “R” inflexibilities that are coupled with Blackberry Messenger (BBM users can see when the message has been Delivered and Read).Fred- Your daughters, like my younger sister, will eventually get sick of BBM. BBM is on a fast track to be uncontrollable for teenagers that have 500 + friends. I think that at some point these teenagers will get sick and tired of knowing every single thing that is going on with their friends, and have their friends know every single thing that goes on with them. Facebook, Twitter, and BBM will become too intrusive. When this happens, they will reduce their privacy settings on Facebook, stop writing as many tweets, and yearn to rid themselves of BBM.The real issue arises when they ask themselves, “how should we get rid of this BBM”? Ask your children how many people they’ve deleted. The answer will probably be none. That’s because Blackberry users view this as the ultimate insult. Eventually, blackberry users will encourage themselves to leave RIM just to avoid a BBM delete confrontation.If you think I’m thinking into this too deeply, you surely don’t know any teenagers with Blackberry’s.

  23. Cheyne

    Yesterday blackberry pushed the app world icon onto my phone, and I pretty much instantly had a look and installed a few applications. Simple as that. I knew it existed but never got around to installing the app world. Once it was magically there, i used it.

  24. Mark Gannon

    Fred,How about a piece on how the economics of app stores impact development decisions at start ups you’re familiar with? For example, 20% to 30% of a developers revenue based on the platform in question is a high price to pay to get into the Android or BB markets when you can do web based installs instead. Obviously Apple is a little different. If you’ve ever read the terms and agreements from Android or BB, they include things like auditing etc. As a micro-micro developer of some apps, I can’t justify participating in a crowded store with terms like that.

  25. sweller

    The BB Tour is by far the most pleasing and useful phone I have ever owned. I do agree with you about the security options — it’s a pain every time I download and setup any application. Each one annoyingly wants to go as deep as possible into my device and it takes forever to set up even the simplest application.I would really like to see some of these phones adopt the concept of a local (or remotely stored) security profile. I should be able to pick my security options when I set up my phone and create a profile for that flavor of security. That way, when I download a new app, I can default it to the security profile of my choosing through one menu and button, not 25. Ideally, I should be able to store this profile with my carrier and have it applied to new devices when I upgrade, so I do not need to go through app install hell the next time around.As applications, devices and services become evolve to become more integrated with our lives, I think there will be a need for a central place where you store your security profile/policy. Similar to OpenID or OpenPGP, but for your security/sharing policy and preferences.

  26. Joe Wallin

    I personally think Viigo is the best app out there for the Blackberry.

  27. kayti

    Fred – where is your Yelp ap? Its free and a MUST for any local business searches.

  28. MattCreamer

    Hi Fred,This post is totally on point. Curious about one thing. Like you, I love both Gmail and my Blackberry, but I find the two don’t integrate terribly well. Do you use the Google mobile app for Gmail? Any tips here? Thanks. Best, Matt

  29. Stark Ravin

    Incredibly well-stated points on the distribution models, Charlie. This is what the technorati don’t understand in their blind passion for “open” this and “open” that. 98% of mobile phone users on the planet (you know, normal people) don’t know or care whether the underlying technology and business model of a product they buy is vendor-centric or not. They just want something that works. Apple gets that.Apple has always made developers bend to the needs of end-users. Technology-centric companies (like Microsoft, Google, any handset maker other than Apple, etc.) always give the engineer/developer the upperhand. Which is a sure recipe for disaster in consumer technology markets. (Not so much enterprise markets.)Cobbling together a distribution channel which is more “open” also results in a distribution channel which is less profitable for developers at the end of the day, even though they are like bratty little kids and just can’t grok this logic in their desire to be free of “the man”. While it sucks to be coddled like a little kid, when it comes to this kind of consumer software distribution model, these developers need to shut up and listen to daddy Jobs. He is spanking them for their own good.

  30. kidmercury

    there is a reason why msft won the PC market, it is because they did a better job catering to develoeprs, and thus got the apps. the consumers want the apps. crapple right now has the apps and developers, but it remains to be seen whether they can sustain this. i doubt they can, based on their unwillingness to cater to developers.also, oppenenss, when done properly, is about cost-savings and personalization. that is why properly executed open strategies will increasingly prove to be dominant.

  31. Stark Ravin

    kidmercury, you are wrong. Microsoft didn’t cater to developers, they catered to enterprises. The enterprise computing market drove the desktop computing industry in the 80’s and 90’s. In that world, you can cobble together a beige box with a crappy, buggy OS and the IT guy will be there to ensure it stays working for the end-user. Developers followed because there was money to be made there.With the consumerization of the technology industry, different factors matter to succeed. Open source technologies don’t matter; the solution that serves the consumer best is what matters. That is the solution that end-users will purchase, and that means units, and developers go where the units are. Why? To make money.Go fiddle around coding to your kludgy, lousy, buggy Android platform; truly the beige WinTel box of the mobile world. In the meantime, Apple will be making thousands of developers lots of money by delivering to them end-users who will buy, buy, buy their apps.

  32. kidmercury

    there is no point debating with crapple fanboys as they are committed to cognitive dissonance. i.e. allegedly catering to app developers doesn’t matter, but why does the iphone have dominant market share? because, for now, they’ve done the best job of catering to developers. for now, at are assuming open source development methods are buggier/inferior than proprietary methods. you are also assuming the economics of closed trumps the economics of open. both assumptions are false. wikipedia is an example of how open production methods can beat closed ones. google and many other companies are an example of how open economics beats closed economics. of course, the most humorous aspect of this discussion is that crapple is an example of how open econoics beats closed as well; the iphone is, after all, a platform. something the great steve jobs needed to be coerced into doing.

  33. fredwilson

    i agree that catering to developers is a huge win

  34. Stark Ravin

    @Charlie Crystle: I get your points, but the ease of developing for a platform (whether on an end-user level for the coder or on the relationship level for the biz dev guy) are only two factors, and not as highly weighted as other factors in the overall ROI calculation around choosing which platform to invest your time and money in.If you think dealing with Apple is pain, try developing for the Nintendo DS (or any videogame platform). Apple’s iron fist is feather pillow in comparison. Yet many developers make 10’s of millions of dollars a year on their DS apps.I realize that having the guy on the front line enjoy the development environment is important, but for large development efforts, the development money is going to go where the units and the users are. Another example: Microsoft. Working with them in the 80’s and 90’s was akin to falling into a snake pit and fighting to survive. They would happily screw you and take your idea as much as support you and co-market your product. But developers put up with it because they made money on the platform. It wasn’t until the persecution by Microsoft got so bad that the industry finally revolted on them in the late 90’s and sicked the government watchdog on them.Again, developers will take all kinds of mistreatment on a number of different levels from a platform provider if they are making money in the process. Only until such behavior seriously threatens their business will they revolt. Apple hasn’t gone there yet, and hopefully they won’t.

  35. Stark Ravin

    Again, you’re talking technology, not business.I am not trying to make a point about open source technologies versus proprietary ones. If you hadn’t noticed, both Mac OS X and the iPhone are based on the original open source OS: BSD Unix. (Apple makes tons of contributions to the open source community every year, from core OS components to Webkit to hardware specs like DisplayPort.) And there’s this really big desktop platform you may have heard of called Windows that is totally proprietary, yet has made developers literally hundreds of billions of dollars over the past 25+ years.You are also not getting my point about consumer platforms versus traditional enterprise platforms. Outside of HTML, tightly controlled platforms for consumer facing apps work best; videogame consoles are the best example of this.Here is all that matters: a platform provider has to ship units, period. If you deliver end-users to developers, no matter how crappy the development experience is, they will flock to a platform that feeds them and their families. If developers can’t get a good ROI off of their investment in a platform, they will abandon it. Right now, the iPhone is the only mobile platform giving a broad base of developers half a chance at recouping their development dollars. And it is the only one that has accomplished this for a broad base of developers, outside of the Palm OS in the late nineties.Other mobile platforms continue to be in “show me” status as far as making money goes. Android may catch up, but as it starts to fragment among carriers and handset makers, development dollars will have to increase, making ROI hurdles that much higher and developer appetite for the platform that much lower.