The Importance of the App Store
Tethering has been a common feature in most BlackBerry devices for quite some time. Users can attach their smartphones to a PC via USB and share its Internet connection with the computer, giving it access to the Web. It's a feature that many in the business world require to get their job done. And it has been a conspicuous omission in previous iterations of the iPhone software. But now, it's available in the new iPhone software version, and companies are undoubtedly taking notice. The App StoreRIM has a relatively new app store called the BlackBerry App World. It's growing. But at this point, it doesn't match Apple's store on any level. According to Apple in its keynote earlier this week at the World Wide Developers Conference, its store now has over 50,000 apps. Some are free and others are paid. A quick glance at the "Business" listing of apps in the store reveals 57 pages of free and paid apps. That's more than 1,000 apps designed specifically for the iPhone that appeals in some way to the business world. And in my experience, many of those apps (I'm looking at you, QuickOffice) are ideal for what businesses are doing. Apple's App Store extends the functionality of the device far beyond anything RIM can do with its own stable of apps from the BlackBerry App World. It's a real issue for RIM-and a real advantage for Apple. Pricing RIM's BlackBerry is expensive. Even with a two-year contract, the BlackBerry Bold costs $249.99. The BlackBerry Storm will set users back $199.99. Compare that to the iPhone 3G's price tag of $99 and the iPhone 3G S's baseline price tag of $199, and it quickly becomes clear that for your money, you're getting far more from the iPhone than the BlackBerry. Consumers already know that. How long will it take before the enterprise finds out too? You can bet it won't be long. Once the iPhone software Version 3.0 is released and the iPhone 3G S hits store shelves, the enterprise will finally have the software it needs to make the switch to the iPhone. It won't be easy and there will be some issues along the way, but rest assured that the iPhone is the future in the enterprise. And RIM and its competitors better take notice.
There's no debating that the iPhone is now capable of providing an experience that's similar to what RIM has been offering with its BlackBerry devices for years. But that doesn't necessarily make it more appealing. At most, the new iPhone software version puts it on par with what RIM already offers. Realizing that, it's necessary that the enterprise find those features that make the iPhone more appealing before it can decide which device it should use next. And nowhere is that more apparent than in the Apple App Store.