BlackBerry (NYSE:BB) has had plenty of trouble convincing developers to create key apps for its BB10 platform so far. But thanks to Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN), the beleaguered smartphone maker just found a clever solution.
This morning, BlackBerry announced the Amazon Appstore will be available with the launch of the BlackBerry 10.3 operating system in the fall. This is a huge deal for BlackBerry, especially considering that Amazon on Monday stated its Appstore selection has nearly tripled over the past year to include more than 240,000 Android applications.
But this begs the question: Is BlackBerry's move desperate or brilliant? Honestly, I think it's neither.
After all, BlackBerry's biggest problem wasn't quantity: at its developers conference last fall, the company boasted of more than 130,000 BB10 apps available. Rather, BlackBerry 10 users have remained frustrated by a lack of access to the industry's most coveted apps, including Groupon, Netflix, and Pinterest, along with games such as Candy Crush Saga and Minecraft.
But BlackBerry's agreement with Amazon isn't entirely novel. Remember, many users quickly found work-arounds -- albeit relatively complicated ones -- to install Android apps on their BB10 devices shortly after the operating system's release. Heck, BlackBerry's own version 10.2.1 update in late January actually added the ability to install Android apps directly on BB10 devices. Naturally, many users quickly realized the easiest way to do so was to download and install the Amazon Appstore.
However, not every wireless carrier immediately rolled out that update. And because BlackBerry didn't officially support Amazon Appstore until now, many users reported mixed results in getting many popular applications to function properly.
Today's announcement, then, appears to be the result of BlackBerry finally putting its stamp of approval on something existing users have long requested. Better yet, with the time it saves effectively embracing Android apps through Amazon's fast-growing ecosystem, BlackBerry no longer needs to try in vain to convince developers of the value of dedicating time to its platform. As a result, BlackBerry can focus more attention both on solidifying its market-leading enterprise offerings and selling low-cost handsets into emerging markets.
But might be BlackBerry's only move
At the same time, it's also a double-edged sword. By riding Amazon Appstore's coattails to boost its own subpar app offerings, BlackBerry certainly isn't doing much to bolster its own brand in the grand scheme of things -- especially considering Amazon is busy unveiling its very own smartphone as I write this article.
In the end, while I think BlackBerry is making the right decision here, it seems little more than a temporary fix to appease the consumer-oriented shortfalls of BB10.