Amazon deal could save BlackBerry from certain death
An over the top headline? Nothing more than click bait? I disagree, and here’s my reasoning…
I’ve thought for many years that BlackBerry is doomed, and very little has changed in my mind since the arrival of its new boss. But today, the news of a partnership with Amazon to bring its Android app store could be the best news in years.
Not that long ago, we nearly had the Gerald Ratner moment as John Chen, CEO, talked about the possibility of getting out of the handset business if things didn’t improve (quickly backtracked soon after).
BlackBerry still bumbles along, with the odd OS update from time to time, but nothing significant is happening in the grand scheme of things – or at least not that we can see.
I’m convinced more and more people are leaving every month to switch to another platform than comes to BlackBerry. Businesses are quietly ditching BlackBerry and allowing staff to use their own devices, while teenagers have long started the mass migration to pastures new.
Grass is greener
There’s nothing inherently wrong with the BlackBerry OS, any more than there was with other operating systems that have disappeared into the wilderness (if they were ever lucky enough to make it big at all) but a ‘nice’ OS won’t pay the bills.
We’ve lost some great platforms over the years, many due to complacency and a total inability to see where the market was going. We bid farewell to Symbian, webOS, bada (okay, maybe not a great example, that one), and more.
It isn’t stopping others trying to have a go, including Samsung even trying again with Tizen, but they all have the same problem. The lack of apps and games.
That might not have been a massive problem years ago where you bought a smartphone for what it could do out of the box.
But then Apple came along and launched an app store. Sure, other platforms had ways to get apps, but none so slick and organised.
It means today we’re all after stuff to download and install to make our devices great. In fact, the hardware is less important to many today than what you can run on it.
Apps Apps Apps
A smartphone is a computer, and a computer needs apps. The operating system is perhaps more vital than anything else today.
BlackBerry has never had enough apps, even on its earlier OS, and even when it launched BlackBerry 10 OS, it only gained a huge catalogue by paying developers to port Android apps over – including over 47,000 suspect apps from just one company.
A significant number of apps are nothing more than bookmarks to websites, meaning a total lack of functionality compared to the ‘proper’ apps available elsewhere.
Being able to run Android apps seems like the solution to every problem (most of the other new platforms boast about Android compatibility), but what about updates and support?
Android apps are updated regularly with new features and bug fixes, but how quickly do they come to the other platforms – if at all?
Amazon saves the day
So the news of BlackBerry bringing Amazon’s app store to BlackBerry OS is good news. Very good news.
Developers might now be in a bit of a panic over the proposed changes (after all, in the long term it will simply not be sustainable to support two app stores) but it has to be good for the future. And, if I was a developer, I’d be siding with the Android side.
I might even go as far to say it’s the only future for BlackBerry.
But it does make you wonder why BlackBerry doesn’t take the next logical step, and adopt Android completely. Then build its services (including the excellent BlackBerry Hub) into that. It could then offer access to Google’s Play Store for even more choice.
To return to my controversial headline. I really do think this could save BlackBerry. Without such a move, I can’t see what else the company can do to stay afloat.
Its customers have moved on, almost certainly to get access to the apps their friends and family use and enjoy.
When BBM was given to other platforms, BlackBerry lost the very feature that could have kept people tied to it.
It’s simply not enough to have built-in support for the most popular social networks anymore, as there are loads of other new and exciting services that people are using that simply won’t appear on these platforms any other way.
BlackBerry still has the enterprise business, with secure email vital to many – but it doesn’t appear to me to be a market that has that much growth, especially as Apple and Google are each working hard to solve their own security concerns.
BlackBerry still needs to find a way to get people buying its devices, but this news might stop people being so keen to defect and keep things ticking along to buy the company some time to sort things out.
BlackBerry Blog release
You want apps? We’ve got apps!
We’ve heard your appeals for access to more applications for your BlackBerry 10 device and we are delivering. We have announced a licensing agreement for the Amazon Appstore to bring more than 200,000 Android apps to you this fall when the BlackBerry 10.3 operating system launches.
You will be able to access popular apps such as Groupon, Netflix, Pinterest, Candy Crush Saga and Minecraft – all available for direct download!
But you also have choices. We will continue to offer BlackBerry World, where you can access applications that leverage the powerful features of the BlackBerry 10 operating system.
That’s two stores – with more apps – and greater choices.
In addition to the greater selection of apps, you will be able to access video and music services through a number of popular third party services available through the Amazon Appstore and BlackBerry World. While BlackBerry World will continue to offer music and video services via third party applications – again giving you more choices for your valued content — we will be closing the music and video sections of our store on July 21st. Don’t worry! Previously downloaded content will be available after that date through MyWorld.
Stay tuned for more information about the Amazon Appstore offering coming to you soon.
We’re excited to be working with Amazon to deliver the apps and content that you’ve been looking for. It’s an exciting new day for BlackBerry 10 device owners. We look forward to hearing from you about what apps you are looking forward to downloading.