Exploring Blackberry App World

The application store rush is definitely on. Since the success of the iPhone’s App Store, Nokia, the Google Android Market, and the Microsoft Skymarket have all followed suit. Even PC manufacturer Acer has said they are looking into the viability of an application store for their new line of Smartphones.

News that Blackberry was planning an application store of some kind has been circulating for a while now, but few details were available. As an avid Blackberry user, I’ve been looking forward to App World for some time. Applications have been featured on blackberry.com for a while, but on nowhere near the scale of the iPhone App Store. There are other sites where you can find both paid and free applications, but no centralized place to go.

In the first week of March, I got an email from the manufacturer announcing that Blackberry App World was coming, inviting me to sign up to get updates. There are even some "App World" pages up on the site now, but no evidence when I visited the site of a big impending launch. Intrigued, I decided to investigate how popular the Blackberry site is today and if it is actually a destination for people looking for applications to add to their devices.

Blackberry.com has become an increasingly popular site in the last 12 months, with traffic growing more than 140% and visits per person increasing by 16% year over year.

People are heading to Blackberry.com in large numbers; most wireless device manufacturer sites have been getting fewer than a million each month. So, I took a look at the site to see what information about App World is actually available now. Of course, it hasn’t been officially launched yet, but there is actually some information about what it is and developing applications on the site. However, this is not easy to find: you have to click on "Software" and then on the "Blackberry App World" menu item, which isn’t highlighted and appears below a link to "Applications for Blackberry Smartphones".

Even if you were one of those people who, like me, signed up for updates and got the email (pictured below), the call to action was clear, but you had to scroll to the bottom of the message to get to the registration link, in contrast to the large button used on the same graphic on their website.

The prospects for App World also look pretty good because the manufacturer’s site already seems to be the destination of choice for many people searching the web for apps. Looking at search data on where people who typed "Blackberry application" into one of the major search engines, it turns out that about a fifth of them are already heading to Blackberry.com.

Considering the number of people who are already going to Blackberry.com and their propensity to go to the site while in search of applications already, it’s likely that traffic to App World will increase in the coming months. In the meantime, I’ll still be searching far and wide on the web for new Blackberry applications.