Here come Super Apps

The primary example is the currently most used app on Blackberry: the Inbox. Yes, the humble email inbox is the most wanted aspect of a RIM device. Blackberry wants to make Inbox into a Super App by by having high quality, highly integrated apps included in it. For example – apps for scheduling, IM, VoIP, mobile internet and more can be built into Inbox in the form of clickable icons along the top of the screen. Rather than having each app being a standalone “island”, Blackberry wants them to be bundled together in inter-connected ways that make using them far faster and simpler.

In a world where all smartphones are 3G, Wifi, hi-res cameras, and easy/cute user interfaces, the availability of third party applications has become the new battleground. Apple’s billions of iPhone app downloads have become the target that everyone is shooting at. Recently a group of carriers and OEMs announced a new initiative to try and create a single application store that works across their devices and networks.

However just chasing Apple misses the point, and RIM, at least in this article seems to be getting it. It’s not just having a lot of random apps, many of which people install, play with and then either never use again. Having a great experience is about how all the applications on a device, both the built in apps like Inbox, Voicemail, Calendar work with third party apps as they’re installed.

For example, Google Voice for Blackberry is marginally integrated with contact menus, but doesn’t replace the default calling features. It doesn’t show voicemails as items in the Inbox. Bloomberg or PaidContent news apps should be able to insert headlines into the Inbox. Facebook, Seesmic, Google Maps, etc are all only integrated around the edges with the system.

I know both the OEMs and the carriers are loath to give up the perceived control and let third party apps insert themselves deeply into the system, but deep integration and the customization it enables may be a new arena of smartphone competition.

Published by Steve Banfield

Kentucky born, Seattle based. Entrepreneur. Team Builder. Photographer.

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