BlackBerry’s first BlackBerry 10 smartphone is about to make its official U.S. consumer debut in just a few days, and the long wait has seen the size of the platform’s app selection swell considerably. According to an interview with BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins conducted by the Australian Financial Review, Heins expects the BlackBerry World content portal to cross the 100,000 app mark in time for the company’s big Z10 smartphone launch later this week.
It’s a notable (if not entirely significant — there’s an argument for quality over quantity) milestone, and one that BlackBerry may be trying to highlight ahead of its fiscal Q4 2013 earnings release on March 28. That’s a sizable jump from the roughly 70,000 apps that debuted along with BlackBerry 10, but the platform still needs support from big-name developers and services if it wants to pose a credible threat to Apple and Google’s mobile hegemony.
Recent reports about Instagram and Netflix for instance painted a portrait of two companies that were hesitant to devote engineering resources to an unproven platform — granted, Instagram appears to be working on an Android port of its app, but the experience of Android apps running BB10 in general leaves something to be desired. The severity of the situation isn’t lost on Heins — he noted to Financial Review’s Paul Smith that BlackBerry is working to further talks with these sorts of prominent parties, and that some companies may be warming to BlackBerry 10.
“I think we are seeing the dynamic changing over time as they want to watch and see how BlackBerry 10 is making it in the market,” Heins pointed out. “They want ROI on their development dollars as well… it is our job to convince them that BB10 is a successful platform.”
Apparently, the process of proving BlackBerry 10 to be a successful platform involves a little smack talk. In a curious display of fighting up, Heins jabbed at Apple for taking the conservative route in fleshing out iOS. As he put it, the “rate of innovation is so high in our industry that if you don’t innovate at that speed you can be replaced pretty quickly,” before pointing out that the iOS interface is five years old. It’s a valid criticism to be sure, and BlackBerry 10 definitely sports some neat new UI flourishes, but let’s not forget that the company’s stock is worth a fraction of what it was five years ago. It’ll take more than talk to fix that.