John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

RIM Needs More Fart Apps, Not Fewer

There are some 10,000 apps in Research in Motion’s BlackBerry App World, and while that’s a pittance compared with the 250,000 in Apple’s iTunes App Store and 70,000 in Google’s (GOOG) Android Market, RIM is in no big rush to raise the number, particularly if it means bolstering it with a bunch of throwaway apps that are going to drag its staid enterprise brethren into the gutter.

Or the toilet.

“For us, apps are all about adding real value to the end-user’s life and creating revenue for developers,” Alan Panezic, RIM’s VP of platform product management, said at the 2010 BlackBerry Developer Conference this week. “We don’t need 200 fart apps in App World. Those are apps you’ll use three or four times then never open again. You’re not looking at ads, clicking on ads or buying premium upgrades, and the app isn’t adding any value to your device.” (Which is exactly what Apple (AAPL) said earlier this month in its new developer guidelines.)

So RIM (RIMM) envisions a BlackBerry App World that’s all signal, no–ahem–noise. But signal and noise are not mutually exclusive. And, as iOS developer Joel Comm will tell you, sometimes that noise can be very lucrative. Comm made nearly $30,000 in one day–from a 99-cent fart app. How many mobile developers redoubled their iOS efforts when they caught wind of Comm’s success in the New York Times? How many new developers began writing apps thinking they could score a similar payday?

Ultimately, RIM just needs more apps, and more that reach beyond the enterprise space. If it has to suffer through a fart app onslaught to get there, who cares? Users will either buy them or they won’t. If they do, that’s money in the pockets of the devs who made them and great encouragement for others who might write software for the platform. If they don’t, it’s great encouragement for devs to try again with a different app.

In the end, RIM just needs to build developer interest in its platform. And issuing mandates about what sort of apps it “needs,” seems a poor way of doing it.

And who knows? maybe enterprise wants a good fart app.

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work