“Scotty More Power” – Users Love the iPhone Blackberry and Portable Devices and Applications January 28, 2009Posted by John in Technology.
Tags: Anton Wahlman, Apple, Apple App Store, Blackberry, iphone, Portable Devices
by Anton Wahlman
With the Blackberry app store launching by the end of March 2009, a
dramatic new problem will emerge with full force: Where is the
application memory to run these new applications? In order to
understand the magnitude of this problem, we have to look at the
mother of all app store pioneers: Apple (AAPL) and the iPhone.
Ask almost any iPhone user what excites them about the iPhone, and
almost all of them answer immediately that it’s the app store, with
many thousands of apps available. Many iPhone users have page after
page after page worth of applications that they have downloaded. It
seems like iPhone users install dozens and dozens of applications, and
I don’t see any signs of abatement. We may be entering a situation
where most iPhone users love their platform so much because they have
hundreds of applications running.
The Blackberry app store is being launched for the obvious reason that
it’s becoming the critical tool in the competitive tool kit. Without a
vibrant developer community, it’s very difficult to compete. The
analogy with the PC world is pretty strong, and possibly even stronger
given that location-based services generate so many more application
possibilities that aren’t as meaningful in the PC world. Here is the
problem: An iPhone has 8 gig or 16 gig worth of memory, compared to a
Blackberry, which has 64, 96, 128 or 256 meg worth of app memory,
depending on the model. Yes, I know these numbers are not perfectly
“apples to blackberries” (no pun intended), because Blackberry has an
expansion card slot and the iPhone doesn’t, and so forth. But keep in
mind that the Blackberry’s expansion memory is for multimedia
(pictures, music, etc) storage, not for running apps or even
containing things such as the address book that synchronizes with
Outlook. One can also argue that an iPhone typically contains a lot
more multimedia than most Blackberries, but Blackberries also synch
with iTunes for DRM-free content, so that gap should narrow as
awareness of this ability grows.
Those caveats aside, the SMALLEST iPhone (8 gig) has 32x the
application memory of the LARGEST Blackberry (256 meg for the 8900
model). The manner in which most users will feel this dramatic 32x
difference is in the ability to install new apps. Clearly, while some
Blackberry apps have tended to carry a small memory footprint, one of
the attractions of the iPhone is that those apps are very rich in
their appearance and functionality, so in order to compete, Blackberry
apps may have to become larger in order to be competitive.
What does this mean? It looks like this clash of Blackberry’s app
store vs the very small app memory will mean many unsatisfied users
who will be lighting up the customer service switchboards like a
Christmas Tree. Many people aren’t likely to understand why they can’t
download/install/run all of these new apps, and their devices could
start to freeze up, and their old emails and instant messaging
conversation could be wiped to free up memory.
This is both a challenge and an opportunity for RIM (RIMM). The
challenge will be all the unhappy customers calling to complain about
the lack of ability of their current devices. The opportunity will be
to start selling new Blackberries with an app footprint equal to, or
greater than, the iPhone. Such a “forced upgrade cycle” is not free,
and it is unclear how consumers will react to this. Either way, for
Blackberry to go from 256 meg or less worth of app memory in its
devices, to 16 gig and more – a 64x increase – will mark Blackberry’s
most important generational shift in the company’s history.
The installed Blackberry base is now approximately 20 million. Ask
yourself: How many of these will use the Blackberry app store as the
excuse to go to another platform such as iPhone, Android and Palm,
versus how many will upgrade to another Blackberry containing some 64x
more memory than your current Blackberry?