BlackBerry App World – an App Store with its own Problems

The iPhone App Store has a lot of (well documented) problems, but on the flip side it has a very simple model that works like you expect it to.

The BlackBerry App World is trying to provide a similar service for BlackBerry users, however BlackBerry developers are also able to distribute and/or sell their apps directly from their own sites and/or through other online etailers. I think this is a better model overall, but it’s far from perfect.

BerryWeather (called BeWeather in the App World) is a bloody fantastic weather application. I’ve been using it since September, and it was the first app I purchased through the App World (Sept. 9th, for $9.99).

$10 is a bit steep for a weather app – especially contrasted with the great free options for the iPhone, but it’s beautiful, works wonderfully, and I am happy to pay for good software.

About a month or two ago, right around the time I upgraded to OS 4.7, BerryWeather started getting times confused. Instead of showing the weather for the next few hours, the times were off and it was showing me nighttime weather in the morning. Very annoying.

I tried:

  • reinstalling
  • contacting support (even sent a screenshot, never received a reply)
  • doing a reset

but nothing helped.

Then I saw that there was a 2.0 release on their web site – I had been running 1.5.x. I deleted my 1.5.x install and installed 2.0 and voila – everything was working properly again. According to the notes in 2.0, this version uses a new data source (WUnderground). It also had an upgrade price of $3.99.

Here’s where things got messy.

The 2.0 version was not available in App World (it is now). The 2.0 version was available from MobiHand, but since I hadn’t purchased from them originally I could only buy the 2.0 version at the full $9.99 price. Also, I just bought this thing less than 3 months ago, charging for an upgrade already is a bit ridiculous.

So in order to purchase the upgrade at the appropriate price, I had to wait several weeks for the App World to push out the update.

A bunch of things are frustrating here:

  1. I had to buy an ugprade after 3 months because the old version stopped working properly. Paid upgrades should be to add features, not to fix problems.
  2. There is no set of rules about how pricing is done – no expectations that the user can feel comfortable with.
  3. I got no response from Bellshare’s support.
  4. The App World didn’t have the newest version available for purchase while other etailers did.
  5. I couldn’t purchase an upgrade from a different etailer (one who had the latest version).

So there you have it. Another app store, but still plenty of problems. For all it’s problems, the iTunes App Store delivers on a consistent set of expectations for its users. The App World may be a better model for developers, but it doesn’t deliver the same simple experience to end users.

I’m not entirely convinced we’re making progress in the mobile arena. There is lots of churn and activity, but I’m not sure things are getting better. Hopefully all of that churn and activity will be better channeled and directed as people learn and understand the space better.