Netflix Illustrates BlackBerry's App Weakness

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Back when BlackBerry (NASDAQ: BBRY  ) launched its new BlackBerry 10 platform, the company made headlines by touting that it had 70,000 apps at launch -- the most for any first-generation smartphone platform. However, if you looked beyond the headlines, you'd find out that an incredible 40% of these apps were little more than Google (NASDAQ: GOOGL  ) Android apps that were "wrapped" for BlackBerry 10.

Excessive reliance on wrapped apps is a major weakness for the platform and represents strategic challenges for when BlackBerry inevitably tries to transition toward native apps. By trying to piggyback on Android's success, BlackBerry is putting itself at risk of turning its entire platform into a wrapper, unless it can persuade developers to invest the extra time and money into developing native apps instead of porting existing Android apps.

Count me out
One important developer is decidedly not on board. AllThingsD reports that Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX  ) has "no current plans for a BlackBerry app." This comes after BlackBerry said it was "in talks" with the online video streamer, among several other high-profile names. Netflix supposedly sees little incentive to develop for BlackBerry 10, since it likely wouldn't translate into additional subscribers.

Additionally, Netflix's subscriber base is still mostly in the U.S. The company had 27.1 million domestic streaming subscribers at year's end, compared to 6.1 million internationally. The U.S. is a weak geographical segment for BlackBerry, with its share falling to 0.9% recently. Little incentive, indeed.

That certainly doesn't bar the possibility, but BlackBerry 10 will need to prove itself before Netflix has any reason to embrace the platform.

How to turn your new Z10 into a 2-year-old Android
On the other hand, it's not as if determined BlackBerry loyalists can't get a Netflix app at all. The enthusiasts over at CrackBerry got Netflix running on the new Z10 shortly after launch, but it's worth noting that the process itself requires manually sideloading an older version of the Android app on to the device, and there are obvious performance issues.

The Android emulator found within BlackBerry 10 runs version 2.3 Gingerbread, which was originally released just over two years ago, although the company has announced that it is working on updating this to Android 4.1 Jelly Bean at some unspecified point in the future. As it stands, it seems like a lot of work to get a fancy new Z10 to function like a 2-year-old Android device.

Count us out
Netflix isn't the only one, though. Even Skype, which was one of the headliners at the BlackBerry 10 launch event, is actually just a ported version of its Android app. Although Skype did say that it was collaborating with BlackBerry to "ensure the Skype for Android app runs great in the BlackBerry 10 environment." That's better than no support at all, but it's still not as good as a native offering would be.

Since Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT  ) now owns Skype and is also actively trying to steal the No. 3 smartphone spot from BlackBerry, it's not too surprising to see Skype subtly undermine BlackBerry 10's odds of success. For what it's worth, Microsoft pulled ahead in the U.S. market with a 3.2% share as of January.

Popular photo sharing service Instagram, which was recently bought by Facebook (NASDAQ: FB  ) , also won't develop a native app. That's in contrast to its parent company; BlackBerry did score a native Facebook app since the platform integrates numerous social networks. A native BlackBerry 10 app from online music streamer Pandora Media¬†is also nowhere to be found. Third-party ports of both Instagram and Pandora are available, but again performance leaves a little to be desired.

Mobile platforms these days live or die by content availability, including apps. A big name like Netflix passing on BlackBerry 10 is certainly a setback, but the real issue is that BlackBerry's choice to rely heavily on ported apps as a shortcut has put it in quite a predicament.

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Read/Post Comments (11) | Recommend This Article (4)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On March 05, 2013, at 8:42 PM, brianasmith24 wrote:

    Netflix is not required to "Keep Moving". Serious phone users care little about Netflix. Having said that I have Netflix on my Z10 via PlayOn. There are many ways to overcome lack of apps. For example use Kobo and Nook's webpage reader and create a shortcut to your home screen so it even looks like an app. The Z10 browser works well for reading Kobo and Nook books. Now back to some serious work and fun on my amazing Blackberry Z10.

  • Report this Comment On March 05, 2013, at 8:47 PM, eidsonb wrote:

    OMG...the App thing again REALLY....then you go on on and about Google and pimp some new premium report on Google. I bet you will sell me one on Apple too. Support that BBRY Short...I also its ironic that the three stock you praise or mention in a positive light are also pimped by the Fool.

    I do not really need Netflix....they need me,,,and I am a subscriber. I have two compatible TV's in my house that I can watch Netflix on if I so desire. I have had two iPods in the two years that I have my BB9810 and gave them both up and maybe used the App twice.

    I am sure that Netflix is taking a wait and see attitude which is ok by me and most BB users. I can also guarantee that NO ONE will make a choice on a phone because you cant get the App. But you can get movies form BB World.

    I do not need 2000 Flashlight Apps, 200 versions of Sol or Spades or Hearts. I can do with out the multiple Tetris Rip offs and the multiple fart noise making apps.

    FB and Instagram are working on an native app, but for now there are several you can side load. Again the sky will fall if I cant post a picture to the web...wait don't Twitter and FB already do that...

    BB10 is going to change the mobile world...dump your buggy and security prone Android and you old and VERY stale iOS and come along for the ride....

  • Report this Comment On March 05, 2013, at 8:51 PM, willjelbert wrote:

    This is just another anti-Blackberry propaganda piece. Anyone who has a Z10 loves it. You didnt mention Featherduster - no other competitor has that , but seriously dude. It's not all about apps. The biomapping, the ease of typing, and the intuitive, space station technology that ensures the phone never crashes, are what count. This phone is solid. It's fast. It's not a smart phone , its a phone that makes being smart easy. It's way ahead of the competition. This article is geek heavy. Only geeks in bed with google employees obsess about apps like you are here.

  • Report this Comment On March 05, 2013, at 9:19 PM, Luckyneer wrote:

    Show some Incredibility ,who give a damn about Netflix and Instagram

  • Report this Comment On March 05, 2013, at 9:40 PM, jim587 wrote:

    I was long time Blackberry user who switched to an iPhone 4S. I am a heavy Netflix user on my big screen TV at home. I have the Netflix app on my phone. Guess how many times I have used it? Never. Not one time. I have it on my Kindle Fire HD too. I think I have used it twice. Not having Netflix is not going to keep me dumping this toy iPhone for a real productivity tool.

  • Report this Comment On March 05, 2013, at 9:42 PM, Jcv565s wrote:

    I will be interested to see how BB does internationally as it has no chance in the US. I enjoy following the volatility and first quarter results are going to be a make or break moment. Either one of the largest short squeezes in history or single digits.

    I don't think apps are as big as people make them out to be and with data limits Netflix doesn't mean anything to mobility. Maybe a tablet but not a smartphone.

  • Report this Comment On March 05, 2013, at 10:08 PM, eidsonb wrote:

    hey Info.....see you posted twice :)

  • Report this Comment On March 05, 2013, at 10:15 PM, Oril wrote:

    Netflix no current plan to support blackberry.

    Same old story different day. Or different year.

    Nothing new here, they have never supported blackberry devices and have made that point openly for years. Now why would a company ignore a potential 80 million+ customers unless they have a back room deal with corrupt deep pockets like apple? It's no wonder they almost went bankrupt and will likely do so again.

    Anyway these articles are getting rather monotonous, blackberry has much bigger fish to fry than this.

  • Report this Comment On March 06, 2013, at 9:05 AM, tonyrenier wrote:

    I'm constantly amazed by the judgement of you bloggers who really have little to no experience on the subject you're writing about.

    I DO NOT want to watch movies on a phone screen! I even hook my tablet up to the TV via HDMI, the darned screen's too small.

    Get over it, it's a phone, NOT a TV.

    And if you love Android, write about the things you enjoy about android.


  • Report this Comment On March 06, 2013, at 11:02 AM, CZZZZZZ wrote:

    Another day another lame BB bashing article at The Fool.

    Are you guys trying to comptete with Eric Savitz at Forbes with who can produced the most dim witted BB bashing articles?

    re: BlackBerry's App Weakness

    -Its multiplatform compatible (BB10, Android Emulator, HTML5 support)

    -BB developers earn more on average than Android and Apple app developers

    These 2 reasons explain why its the most developer friendly platform and there's nearly 1k apps coming in a day

    Hows your $750 APPL stocks and Short position BBRY doing these days ?....looking forward to the Shortsqueeze coming this month you imbecile !

  • Report this Comment On March 07, 2013, at 6:15 AM, i3aggz wrote:

    Whoa........uh piggybacking off of androids success???? hmm, did blackberry have the first app world/site? or was that android? thats right it was blackberry, so i have one question for android users/lovers........dont ya love having to charge your phone as often as you do? i believe the ratio is for my one charge you all do 3-4 charges(and we use our phones roughly the same amount).

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