We already know that things aren’t looking great for BlackBerry—despite launching a new operating system and a few reasonably attractive flagship phones in the last year, the company recently announced that it was seeking buyers to help reverse its decline. BlackBerry 10’s app store offers one explanation for why the operating system isn’t setting the world on fire: BerryReview reports that of the 120,000 apps in BlackBerry World, over 47,000 of them come from a single developer, and as you might be able to guess, the quality of those apps isn’t exactly up to snuff.
S4BB Limited, a self-described “leading edge” mobile app company based in Hong Kong, is the culprit in this case. Even a cursory glance at its products demonstrates why you wouldn’t want its apps in your store—some of them (a QR reader, a scanner app) appear to have some practical use, but most others are either pointless (Mega Fart, which to its credit does exactly what it says it does) or really pointless (“apps” which serve as wrappers for the Amazon and Wikipedia mobile sites). Full disclosure: I haven’t looked at all 47,000 of them, so I may be making unfair assumptions based on the first couple hundred or so.
Value-free apps like these can be found in all of the major mobile app stores, so the fact that BlackBerry World has so many of them isn’t surprising in and of itself. However, it is a problem when well over a third of your store is composed entirely of useless software from a single developer, especially when you have so few apps compared to the competition—Apple’s App Store has well over 900,000 iPhone and iPad apps, according to the company’s keynote at WWDC in June, while the number of apps in Google Play is somewhere north of one million. Also problematic is the fact that S4BB and others like it can flourish in BlackBerry World, while major mobile staples like Spotify, Rdio, and Instagram remain absent.