In a very strange move, Amazon recently opened up their entire Android app catalog for BlackBerry users. That's right! In a new licensing deal, Amazon will allow the BlackBerry 10.3 (due out this fall... yes, BlackBerry is still releasing devices) access to over 250,000 apps. This major move does two things:
- Frees up BlackBerry to focus on business-centric apps
- Gets the non-business BlackBerry users access to casual apps
To me, there's a slight disconnect here. Are there casual BlackBerry users? My guess is no. BlackBerry only continues on because of business users who frequently travel overseas and holdovers who fear change (or there's that one app they can't do without). BlackBerry is set to release a new piece of hardware, but isn't it a little too late?
Three years ago, this would have been a completely different, and possibly game-changing, headline. Now? Not so much. The idea here is that BlackBerry isn't failing — it's failed. The company is holding onto the hopes that adding the Amazon Android catalog will not only help to retain their current miniscule user base, but attract new users who left because of what can only be seen as "app drought." Sure, BlackBerry had solid business tools, but beyond that... there isn't much else. When you add to this some fairly unimpressive hardware, then you have the recipe for what ailed the company.
What can the addition of the Amazon Android catalog do? Clearly, BlackBerry Enterprise is going under the assumption that 250,000 apps (a majority of which will not appeal to BlackBerry users) will bring relevance back to the device. There's a slight problem with that logic. In today's mobile market, there are two incredibly massive players: Android and iOS. They are the de facto standards by which all mobile devices are compared. Any other platform with hopes and aspirations of making any noise in the mobile market is facing some nearly insurmountable odds. Look at WebOS and the maybe-soon-to-be-possibly released Ubuntu Phone. Both platforms are staring down the barrel of major barriers to entry — just to get noticed. BlackBerry has been assumed dead for a long time now ("long time" being relative, of course). A resurrection in this fickle market is often more challenging than a new release. When the PC, IT, and mobile communities assume you are no longer relevant, you may as well be dead and buried.
And yet, here we have the little train that could doing everything it can to remain on the tracks. I have to say, the efforts of BlackBerry are commendable. Most other companies would have given up the ghost long ago. But BlackBerry Enterprise keeps on chugging along, hoping that one day it'll make the right move to bring it back to relevance.
Is the Amazon Appstore for Android the move to resurrect what was once jokingly called Crackberry? My best guess is that it'll give it the tiniest boost of life and then, slowly, the company will drift off into the Big Nap for good.
What do you think? Is it time for BlackBerry to give up the ghost? Or will the Amazon Appstore for Android save the little company that could? Share your thoughts in the discussion thread below.
Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.