Thursday, September 10, 2009

The App World torture continues

I have a handful of BlackBerry apps published on RIM's BlackBerry App World, the "official" app store for BlackBerry phones. Recently, I have been getting emails daily from users who have trouble downloading my applications. The problem is actually with the on-phone App World application, which can get stuck trying to download an application. App World does not make it easy to figure out who to contact for help with the store, so its users click on the tech support link for the individual apps instead. Those tech support requests, of course, go to the app publishers such as myself, who are in no position to fix App World problems.

It has been a rough ride for many publishers of apps on RIM's store. In their rush to match Apple's App Store, RIM released App World store software that remains buggy and immature. When it first opened in April, App World 1.0 had a glaring bug: for software that sold as try&buy, the store would either deliver paid versions to people who downloaded the free trial version, or delivered the free trial version to people who paid for the full version. This bug was only fixed in App World 1.1, released months later at the end of July.

App World is not the only option for publishers of BlackBerry software. Stores like Mobihand and Handango have been around for years, and you can publish for free. It is a bit of a shame, really: these older stores are in many ways more mature. For example, Mobihand's vendor portal lets you issue coupon codes, set promotional pricing, set prices as low as $0.99 and issue refunds. None of this is possible with App World. So why do I publish on App World? The reality is that for all its problems, App World still has the highest sales volume among the 3 BlackBerry app stores I am publishing on. It probably works fine for most people most of the time. Unfortunately, I have to deal with the exceptions.

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