Categories BlackBerry

The numbers: The BlackBerry World and S4BB

A “scandal” hit the news recently that caused a lot of discussion and even BlackBerry itself was forced to publicly respond. I am not talking about anything else than the S4BB story about the 47000+ it has published in the BlackBerry World store.

Since I have recently created an infrastructure that monitors the BlackBerry World for my SmartAppShopper app, I am in the position to have good insight of what is going on in the store. So how many apps does S4BB precisely have on the store? Are all apps for BlackBerry 10? What is the average rating of those apps? What is the distance in number of apps from the second most “productive” vendor? Brace!

It turns out that S4BB is one of the oldest vendor in BlackBerry world. Its ID is just 102. So there must be many apps from S4BB that are from the pre BlackBerry 10 era. Lets see how that looks.

Numbers by platform

S4BB Limited has a total of 48231 apps published on the store (at the moment of writing). Split across devices like this:

  • BlackBerry OS 7 : 195
  • BlackBerry PlayBook: 1802
  • BlackBerry 10: 47009
You will notice that these add up to more that 48231 but that is because some apps can support more than one platform/device.

So 96% of the apps are for the BB10 platform, 4% is for PlayBook and less that 1% is for the old BlackBerry OS 7 platform. So indeed S4BB got really busy with the brand new platform.

How good are these apps

There is an ancient greek saying “Ο�?κ �?ν τῷ πολλῷ τὸ εὖ” which mean that good is not in a lot. But a lot can’t necessarily be not good. So lets dig into the data and see what people have to say about the apps. After some data crunching the outcome is that 48007 out of those 48231 apps have zero reviews! For 99.5% of the apps no one cared enough to rate. This usually means that no one or very little did actually download these apps. But what about those 224 apps that are left? How are those ratings look? Lets see:

It turns out that these apps look very good! Most of them are highly rated apps averaging at 4.5 stars. There are a few that are rated with 2 stars and less, but we can see that more than 60 of them are 5 star apps.

So what this basically means is that S4BB has two kind of apps. The true ones, and those that was just made for the numbers. I don’t know why they did that, I can’t tell if these where a result of a portathon or something. I really can’t tell if having so many apps helps with promoting your good apps by getting better discoverability. To me it seems that even the amount of time that is required to upload and set up 47000 apps in the BlackBerry vendor portal does not worth the time. I honestly don’t know how they did it!

But is this a common practive in BlackBerry World? Do other developers do this, or this is an exception?

How many apps does other developers have?

Click to enlarge

The first thing I wanted to checkout after this story hit the news was if this is a common practice in the store. I was so surprised by the huge number of apps from S4BB that honestly didn’t know what to expect.

In the graph on the right you can see how the top most published developers look. The first thing you notice is that indeed S4BB is the exception with 6 times more apps than the second. But still even the second (SmartEbook) has a lot of apps. More than 7000. If it was me I would have made a single app with all the ebooks in it. I don’t really understand why a developer would make so many distinct apps, one for every ebook. But I have seen that happen on Android and iOS, so there might be some kind of win into that, that I just don’t get.

The list continues with a lot of developers having 50-60 apps in the store, which I still find a lot. I mean I would understand having 100 apps if you are a GPS navigation company that sells each country separately but how many developers are like that? I don’t know.

So is BlackBerry fooling us?

If you want my opinion, BlackBerry is the only company that doesn’t do that. It is true that S4BB went on and created a crazy number of apps that probably no one wants to use. What should BlackBerry do when advertising the size of their store? Put an asterisk next to the number and disclaim that 47000 of these are from S4BB? Why do that? Anyone caring for the number of apps cares just for that, and that is the number. Apple AppStore has like a million apps now. How many of these apps are are useless? This is why app stores have rating systems. To separate the weeds from the seeds. When companies report app numbers they don’t report how many 4 star and up apps they have, and BlackBerry shouldn’t too.  What BlackBerry does more than any other app store is provide the Build for BlackBerry seal of quality. So anyone can see that they do more than what others do to ensure a good app store, and they just publish the number of apps for those (and the most) that judge ecosystems by plain number of apps. The flaw lays with those and not with BlackBerry.

If one really wants to compare app stores, he should never do in on number of apps, so the number of apps S4BB has is irrelevant. For me the point is to have a rich choise of good apps, most of the top apps of other stores, etc.

After all BlackBerry World is the only place you can get the awesome FlyCraft and therefore  it’s the best app store hands down! 😀


(if anyone is interested in more detailed numbers about the store let me know on twitter @harkal)



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