BlackBerry announced a pretty big partnership this morning where we learned Amazon’s Appstore will be pre-loaded on BlackBerry 10.3 this fall. Logically, the narrative over these last few hours have been that this deal is a win for BlackBerry because of the huge chunk of big name apps that will be available for users to download. While this is true, there’s an underlying reason for why this is such a big deal for the Canadian smartphone maker.
Since BlackBerry announced it would be focusing its efforts on its enterprise roots, many rolled their eyes, and sighed at the thought of BlackBerry leaving the consumer market for good. Even though BlackBerry CEO John Chen has stated on many occasions this wasn’t the case, many thought the writing was on the wall. That writing can be erased now, as the deal with Amazon has reaffirmed BlackBerry’s commitment to the consumer space while the company keeps its focus on enterprise. More than that though, this deal is about a hugely popular, big name company like Amazon putting faith in BlackBerry as much it is about the apps.
For a while now, a lot of us have been saying how BlackBerry just needed one big juggernaut company to show they believed in them and what they were doing for the public perspective to start turning around, and that’s exactly what just happened.
Anyone using a BlackBerry 10 device right now knows you can install whatever Android apps they want. Since OS 10.2.1 became official, the issue of not being able to have an app was pretty much erased, but the public perception that BlackBerry didn’t have apps remained (You can blame BlackBerry for this lack of public knowledge, as they didn’t even mention in the 10.2.1 press release announcement that you could install APKs directly without needing to sideload. Not even going to mention the lack of marketing on this front too, but I digress). This partnership with Amazon removes the need to sideload a storefront like Snap, or the need to download APKs from shady websites. You may think that wasn’t a big hurdle in the first place, but with this partnership and OS 10.3, even the most basic, I-don’t-know-anything-about-smartphones person will be able to download and use Android apps from Amazon’s Appstore on their BlackBerry 10 devices. That’s a huge plus in the public perception for BlackBerry, and probably the biggest boost they could get.
Now, let’s not get things mixed up here either. Amazon isn’t helping BlackBerry out of the goodness of their heart solely. On July 21st, BlackBerry is shutting down all its media (non-apps) sections in BlackBerry World. No more music, movies or TV shows from this source. If BlackBerry users want to purchase content on OS 10.3, guess where they’re going to have to go? Amazon’s Appstore. You can bet Amazon is loving the idea of another source of revenue regardless of its size. On top of that, if the addition of Amazon’s Appstore helps BlackBerry sell more devices, then guess who else benefits? Again, Amazon.
This announcement also came at a curious time – a day before BlackBerry’s quarterly earning report, and the same day Amazon announced its first Android-powered smartphone, the Fire phone. Now, Kindle apps are cool, no doubt, but Amazon wants apps designed specifically for its smartphone, and here’s another area BlackBerry fits in. In a post on the Inside BlackBerry Developers blog, the company points out how BlackBerry developers will be provided “new options for monetizing your apps with BlackBerry” because of its deal with Amazon.
“With the Amazon Appstore, you will be able to sell to more users and you will have access to powerful promotional tools for increased discoverability and profitability.”
If Amazon can get big time BlackBerry developers like Kisai Labs (developer of Blaq for BlackBerry 10), and others to make their apps for Amazon’s Appstore too, well you just got another big win for them.
Partnerships that mutually benefit both parties this much are rare. In this case, Amazon gets more subscribers, revenue, and possibly developers to work for their devices, and BlackBerry gets some major apps it needed along with a public boost of support from one of the biggest companies in the world right now. This is why BlackBerry’s deal with Amazon can be considered such a win for more reasons than just apps.