RIM’s mobile software portal, App World, is now enjoying 3 million downloads daily, and has recently hit the 1 billion download mark after chugging along for two years. When talking about numbers, it’s hard not to compare App World to the iPhone App Store which recently passed 15 billion downloads, and reached 1.5 billion just after their first year. The Android Market also took two years to hits its first billion, but now sits at 4.5 billion total and served their last billion in 60 days. Even the Nokia Ovi Store sees twice as many daily downloads as RIM.
Sorry, not to take the wind out of RIM’s sails on this announcement, but considering their own execs are dismissing the Android app player for the PlayBook as a means for consumers to satisfy a superficial need for “tonnage”, it seems weird that they’re bragging about hitting a modest milestone. Besides, the main worry when it comes to BlackBerry apps is on how many are available for the PlayBook, since QNX will be the future of RIM’s smartphones, and app selection will set the stage for their first dual-core handsets early next year. Being first to a tablet-optimized Facebook app is nice and all, but the TouchPad version is certainly more interesting to use (if not as smooth).
App World itself is actually pretty slick. There’s a solid web-based element that includes sideloading and purchasing right from the browser, it incorporates QR codes for quick scanning and downloading through the phone’s camera, and a multitude of billing options, including PayPal, credit card, and carrier. Version 3.0 is just around the corner, and will likely have a few more tricks up its sleeve. Even though it rarely gets the cutting-edge stuff, BlackBerry App World does host some high-quality titles. Developer tools are gradually improving, but any that have defected from BlackBerry are already cozy with iPhone or (to a lesser extent) Android. At the end of the day, BlackBerry wasn’t originally designed as an application platform, which I think is what’s ultimately holding it back; there’s just a ton of legacy stuff RIM is still lugging around that, until QNX comes around, will bog down the app development process so much that most programmers just won’t bother with it in the first place.