The reason a large app store matters is probably less important to individual smartphone users and more important to developers who want to write apps for a platform that is robust and will survive to become a money-maker. Clearly, writing apps for iOS or for Android is where the successful developers want to be.
The range of hardware and software innovations in the BlackBerry Z10 running the BlackBerry 10 OS shows that the company desperately wants to carve out a bigger future in smartphones. Unfortunately, there are a lot of factors that extend well beyond the actual Z10 device that determine if it's going to succeed, including the number of apps that run on it, correct pricing and marketing of specific features beyond a broad-brush branding campaign.
The smartphone could be a real hit. It has to overcome a plain, boring body and an agonizingly slow boot time. On the other hand, the phone's slightly superior display, great browser and its amazing touch and interface capabilities -- including voice control -- should persuade more developers to get on board to write more apps to help it do well.
If U.S. carriers sell it at the right price (which would be no more than $149, in my opinion) and promote it properly once it finally launches in mid-March, it could do well. But U.S. carriers will also have to figure out where it fits in the range of devices they offer, which will include an upcoming Galaxy S IV and an iPhone 5S, among others -- all, no doubt, with bigger and better features.
There's a chance that the Z10 will not emerge fast enough in the U.S., but still do fairly well in Europe or elsewhere, which would be a pity for American buyers. It's a good phone and a great OS. The question is whether that is going to matter.
Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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