We often get approached about building applications across multiple platforms. Invariably the request is made for iPhone, Android and Blackberry. iPhone is a no-brainer. It’s the platform of choice for most first generation apps and the iPhone was very obviously made for apps. Android is now making it’s own challenge. While their app market is still somewhat in it’s early stages, it is growing and Android users buy their phones with the idea of using apps. It’s all about how these two platforms have been marketed.
The third platform, Blackberry, is unfortunately the red headed step child of the mobile platform universe. RIM has done a wonderful job over the years of getting their platform to the masses, however, apps have always been a second thought. Besides the beauty of the iPhone, that’s one good reason they’re losing market share. While users used to tout the Blackberry’s email and text capabilities, it’s now the only thing they really have to offer. While they can download apps, I would guess that a large portion of Blackberry users wouldn’t even know how to download an app if they knew one existed.
This isn’t to say no one should ever build an app for Blackberry, however it should definitely be left to those with a large budget or an idea that has already proven itself as a mass market utility that has passed the test on the iPhone and/or Android. Blackberry still has a large footprint, so even a small percentage of that user base would be a nice addition, however, unless you count your app among the Facebooks, Twitters, and Pandoras of the world, you should start with iPhone and move from there. These are applications where Blackberry users will make noise if an app is not available and where the applications are already known and used by the general public across various mediums such as the web.
One option, so as to not totally ignore Blackberry users, is to optimize for the mobile web. With the latest versions of Blackberry’s, most will handle the mobile web pretty closely to iPhone and Android with a few tweaks. If you have an application or website that doesn’t fit into the categories above but you still want to grab some Blackberry users, talk to us about how to optimize your application for Blackberry’s web browser just like HTH did.