RIM CEO: App Store Size Doesn't Matter

RIM CEO Thorsten Heins, pitching BlackBerry 10 in the weeks leading to its release, insists RIM is playing it smart with its app store.
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Research In Motion CEO Thorsten Heins is a man on a mission: Sell Blackberry 10. Heins is working to convince not only wireless network operators, but also businesses, developers and consumers that BlackBerry 10 -- the company's forthcoming, next-generation smartphone platform -- is worth a look.

One of the competitive obstacles BB10 will face at launch is the availability of applications. Historically, brand new smartphone platforms have had few apps for consumers to download on day one. The iTunes App Store, for example, had just 500 apps when it launched back in July 2008. Now, it has more than 600,000. So does the Google Play Store for Android devices. Microsoft's Windows Phone Store has more than 125,000 apps.

According to Heins, however, size isn't everything. RIM is taking a more targeted approach to stocking its app store with applications for BB10.

"The tactic we are deploying is by country and by region," said Heins in an interview with Reuters. "We are aiming to have the most important 200 to 400 apps available [per country], because many applications are regional and they really do have a regional flavor. We've done 30 jam conferences in various cities all around the world, to get the bucket filled with meaningful local apps and not just a huge bunch of applications that you collect and throw at your audience. It is a very, very targeted approach."

[ For apps news on RIM's rivals, read Why Apple Can't Deny Google Maps On iPhone. ]

Targeted or not, Heins says that the new BlackBerry 10 app store will launch with about 100,000 applications. That's far more than any other platform has had available at launch. Despite this huge goal, Heins insists the apps will be good, not just voluminous. He was sure to make some digs at his competitors, too.

"In my view it is really short-sighted to say, you have 600,000, you have 400,000 and you only have 100,000 apps, so you are not good," said Heins. "Look at how many actually get downloaded. BlackBerry App World today is still the most profitable portal for application developers -- it has the highest number of paid for downloads."

He's not wrong. There's no shortage of junk apps in both Apple and Google's respective app stores. Thankfully, app reviews and app ratings help smartphone owners skip the worst-of-breed apps cluttering up the App Store and Play Store and find good apps.

"We don't have 1,500 Solitaire apps. That is not what Blackberry is about," Heins noted. (He didn't say if there would be 1,500 timesheet programs, though.)

RIM has scheduled a press conference for January 30 to officially launch the BlackBerry 10 platform and the first wave of devices. The company has promised that the devices will hit store shelves within 30 days of the January 30 debut.

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