Just over a year ago, Rod Simmons from Simple Mobile Review, wrote a great guest post for us on his thoughts on moving to the BlackBerry Storm from and iPhone user point of view. Now he’d like to get something off his chest about BlackBerry App World.
Is it just me or is the Blackberry App World a train wreck. Navigating for apps in App World is like getting a grain of sand in your eyes at the beach. You can still see but it annoys the crap out of you the entire time. RIM needs to get a clue, looking to Apple for inspiration would get some benefits but their mobile store is only marginally better. Here are a couple minor changes that could greatly improve the user experience.
1. Here is where you can take a page out of the Apple or Android playbook. Always use small icons and list views kill the fake cover flow. The problem that exists in most app stores is the categories are not granular enough. For example Social Networking should break out to Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and other major players. Also provide an additional category such as “other” to list less popular social networks . A list with hundreds or thousands of apps is worthless when working on a device.
2. Based on the point above one would be thinking you should be searching not browsing. For that I agree but the search needs to have some level of relevance. Searching for Twitter and finding a ‘pull my finger’ app because it can post to twitter is not exactly showing power of search, thus the need to browse. This is where, as a user, I want to search for Twitter under Social Networking or search for WordPress under Utilities. Most important if I find an app, let me know what category it is in. There is no doubt I will search for something similar in the future, so understanding the thought process is useful.
3. People always ask “what apps do you have installed?” Many would be happy to share their installed apps with others. I should be able to look at a friends by PIN, Twitter Account, EMail and see his/her installed apps. This assumes they opt into sharing. Ensure the user has an option to not share specific installed apps. Again your goal is to make it easier for users to buy apps.
4. When installing an app it would be nice to see upfront if any of the people I follow have it installed. Have they uninstalled this app? If they uninstalled, why? How frequently do they use it if possible: daily, weekly, monthly? Again knowing what the blackberry community does is nice but I may only care what my friends are doing. Why you wonder, we all know people game these comments systems so my friends are the perfect network I can trust.
On the computer or web
5. If nothing else let me browse on my computer and push apps to my blackberry. I don’t want the computer to be required but having an option to browse for apps on a more functional device seems to be a brilliant idea. Remember the list of hundreds or thousands of items. It is not much better to have large lists on a computer but I can deal with it better. On a computer of on the web I could sort lists or have additional columns for popularity and a variety of other criteria.
Install by default
6. I am sure Verizon, TMobile, AT&T and a host of international carriers can opt out of installing AppWorld by default. Please, for the benefit of the user, force the install of AppWorld by default. The majority of people I talk to have no clue what AppWorld is or how to get it. I cannot think of a good reason to build a store and fail to send out invites. Come on RIM, lay down the pimp hand. These carriers are killing your user experience.
If you want to better understand the lack of penetration of AppWorld next time your talking to a average user, one that does not visit Rimarkable or Simple Mobile Review on a daily or weekly basis, ask them what they think of AppWorld. I would bet they have not even heard of it. More important, take their phone and check if AppWorld is installed.
7. Images load too slow. This has happened on the best of 3G signals where my iPhone has been performing well. There is no way in heck the iPhone handles data better so whatever the issue is fix it. Reality is if performance sucks you have seconds before the user moves on.
I suspect the product managers over at RIM are actively working to make the next generation of AppWorld ground breaking. For now I will continue to find my apps on bing or google and buy directly at the developers sites. RIM has not done enough for 3rd party developers to get a 30% Vig.