BlackBerry users across the UAE woke up to a whole new app world as Canadian makers, Research In Motion, finally opened its treasure trove of free and paid applications to this market.
“I have already downloaded 18 apps since morning,” said Akaash Mehra, citing that the majority of them have been games, along with a few social media and networking apps in hope of finding a Skype-like app for his BlackBerry.
“I am not sure why it took RIM so long to launch app world in the UAE, considering its one its biggest and most lucrative markets, but I am not going to look a gift horse in the mouth now that it has finally opened,” said Ian Thorpe, a marketing manager in Dubai.
The buzz on social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook is also testament to the immense popularity of the phones.
Mona Gir on Twitter posted: “Yaay, Blackberry App World finally working in the UAE :) [sic]”
While Kainat Abbasi simply tweeted: “Downloading apps from @BlackBerry App World like crazy.”
The cynics such as Hurez Hussain on Facebook, however, asked the obvious question: “Finally BlackBerry App World available in the UAE... Why is our telecom technology always out-dated andover-priced? Hopefully, we'll get Mobile Phone Portability and M-Pay soon too.”
The app world is open to both Etisalat and du users, with both telecom companies issuing respective statements, with the former saying: ‘The store is available for all BlackBerry smartphones with a trackball, trackpad or touch screen running BlackBerry OS (device software) 4.2OS or higher’.
Customers can download BlackBerry App World directly to their smartphone by visiting blackberry.com/appworld ormobile.blackberry.com, it added.
Similarly, du made its announcement, adding that users can create a BlackBerry ID, which facilitates new payment options, including credit cards and integrated carrier billing, and allows customers to conveniently transfer their personal library of apps when they switch to a new BlackBerry smartphone.
Downloading is easy after creating a userID, with nearly 250 gaming apps to choose from, both paid and free, along withover 100 IM and Social Networking apps, nearly 85 music apps.
However, with the joyous news came the teething problems too, with several Twitter users complaining that they were unable to access the app world.
Melissa Nieuwoudt tweeted: “Help. I have a torch and downloaded the latest software for the app world, but I cannot login. It says ‘an error has occurred’.”
While others such as Tiya Fa couldn’t understand what the fuss was all about, messaging: “What is BlackBerry Appworld and why's everyone so happy?”
A recent Telecom Regulatory Authority (TRA) survey had indicated that BlackBerry is the preferred smart phone of choice inthe UAE – especially among young tech-savvy Emiratis – for its encrypted BlackBerry Messenger service (BBM), and the launch of its app store in the UAEwill allow the Canadian giant to keep its hold in the smart phone market some more time.
According to the survey, BlackBerries are the most commonly used devices to access the internet in the UAE –approximately 37 per cent of the time – compared to iPhone, which was used to access internet services 16 per cent of the time.
RIM sold 47.4 million smartphones globally in 2010 followed closely by Apple, which sold 46.6 million iPhones, said global tech-research firm Gartner earlier this year. Total Middle East and Africasales of mobile phones reached 155 million in 2010.