Blade is a new app that allows you to reserve a seat on a helicopter to fly from the 34th Street helipad to the Hamptons. Reserving a seat costs $575, but interestingly, the application isn't even offered for the BlackBerry OS. Luckily, BB10 also runs Android apps, and BlackBerry is taking to the road to build developer interest.
BlackBerry (NYSE:BB) has been a laggard in applications behind Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iOS and Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android for years, but the company is making a push to extend its platform. Currently, BlackBerry has 240,000 applications, a tiny number compared to Google Play's 1 million applications and Apple's 70 million apps. However, Android apps run on BlackBerry 10, and the company is hoping that a marketing campaign can help get developers on board and register their apps in BlackBerry World.
Free BlackBerry Z30
BlackBerry is sponsoring AngelHack and AnDevCon, two of the largest hack-a-thons in the world, to help connect developers and the app-hungry BlackBerry user base. Besides sponsoring the events, BlackBerry is offering a free device to developers who go through the process of registering their apps on the platform.
Installing Android apps isn't new, making it easy is
Running Android apps was not always an easy feat. In late January, BlackBerry streamlined the process with version 10.2.1, but prior to this release, to install an Android app, a person had to go through an obscure three-step process that involved converting the app to a BlackBerry 10-compatible file format, then installing it through the command line, which was a difficult feat for all but the heartiest of Crackberry loyalists.
Small steps in the turnaround
BlackBerry is not at a point where we can claim that a turnaround is taking hold, but the company is finally doing what it can to make the platform more appealing to developers, and users are seeing some traction. The Jakarta release in Indonesia went very well, driving long lines of people in a region that has traditionally been a BlackBerry stronghold. According to BlackBerry's Eric Lai, "Indonesian consumers lined up at stores around Jakarta on Friday to buy our new Z3 smartphone, which sold out on its first day of availability in the Indonesian capital."
A small, but notable win
The Indonesian market is a small win, too small to be compared with any of the major markets of the developed world. But, selling high-quality, low-cost handsets may be the way for BlackBerry to regain a foothold in the industry it created over 20 years ago.
The BYOD trend won't be undone
Apple made technology into fashion accessories with the iPod and, later, the iPhone. This led people to demand the ability to bring their own devices to new and existing employers, leaving IT personnel to sort out the details. When the iPhone became a personal tool for both communication and entertainment, it changed the field of battle.
Apple has a flair for being able to produce cool hardware devices that are difficult for competitors to outshine. Google, perhaps recognizing this, decided to build the software and let others to fight over the hardware. Each of these vendors has much greater share in parts of the market they view as strategic. Google in software, and Apple with the overall device, leaving BlackBerry fighting to either regain a small niche, where security may be worth a premium, or needing to reinvent itself.