Its been a question of what comes first, the chicken or the egg? But honestly, I'm getting really irritated about this issue. Especially since Microsoft just announced that Path, Vine, and Flipboard are going to become native WP8 apps at today's Nokia Lumia 1020 event.
Let's just get right down to it: apps drive consumer adoption of a device these days, not the otherway around. For the last two and half years, we have been hearing from big name app developers that they want to see how a device does in the market first before committing resources and effort into developing apps for a platform.
I can understand the logic here, but even with various campaigns launched by hardcore BlackBerry users, and even an indie dev ShaoSoft, who recently created the Give Me That App! to ask developers to bring their apps to our platform, the developers of these apps turn yet again and say there isn't enough demand.
It just happens to be one of those things where one thing feeds into the other. There are no big name apps because there are not enough users, and there are not enough users because there are not enough big name apps. We all have that friend who saw the Z10 or Q10 and said, "it looks nice...but does it have Pandora?" (Or Instagram or Subway Surfer, Spotify, Shazam, Vine, Netflix, Temple Run, well you get the point.)
For every app not on the platform, that's a lost sale. Not necessarily that you will use any given app for 8 hours straight, but for the most part, its about having the ease of mind of knowing it's there if you need it or want to use it.
In our case, the PlayBook was severely undercut due to lack of big name media consumption apps. From the start, it was evident that the technical ability of the PlayBook to run most, if not all, the big name apps was there. Flash support meant you could stream straight from the Hulu website without a hitch; that is untill they plugged access to the page via the PlayBook Browser. Soon, even with all the effort BlackBerry has put into creating a more inviting and open developing platform, allowing for HTML5/WebWorks apps as well as Android apps, many big players are still unwilling to come to the platform.
History somewhat repeats itself with the launch of BlackBerry 10. The platform is now more open than ever supporting all sorts of developing environments, including native C/C++ with Cascades, Android, Adobe Air, WebWorks/HTML5. In the WebWorks front alone, there are already a lot of tools that developers can use to make their apps work on BB10; Appcelerator, Ripple, PhoneGap, Marmalade, just to name a few. So it begs the question: Where the heck are all the "big name" apps?
The story isn't all bleak, there has been a steady stream of apps coming to BlackBerry 10, and the void created by some big name apps have given way to awesome apps we can call our own like Blaq and Pacemaker. Also, other once popular apps like Angry Birds and Plants vs Zombies came, but nobody cares about them anymore. There have also been some pretty darn good apps like Panorama 360, SoundHound, and a flurry of games from EA and Gameloft, but at the end of the day, BlackBerry seems to be the nerd who gets stuffed in a locker unable to get the popular girls to even look in his direction.
That is the reason Martyn Mallick, who has been in charge of Global Alliances and Business Development at BlackBerry and is in charge of making those partnerships with the big name app developers happen, may be one of the next execs to be ousted from the company. Given the absence of most major popular apps, it seems like either he is not being persuasive enough or said companies are unwilling to budge.
I'd really love to learn more about how these decisions are made and how these apps can come to BlackBerry 10 sooner rather than later. However, I have a very big hunch that it must involve throwing lots of money at these companies. BlackBerry needs to invest more resources in securing these partnerships, and they need to do it yesterday! I hope we see some big app partnerships announced in Hong Kong for BlackBerry Jam Asia, but I'm not holding my breath.
Bottom line, we need the top name apps to draw a larger consumer base, and BlackBerry is between a hard place and a thousand sharp knives asking for the heads of those responsible if they continue to fail to turn a profit for investors. I guess Android ports will have to do for now, an app is an app, but BlackBerry needs to push sales with the availability of great apps to go with great hardware and a great user experience.