Messaging rules the app stores these days... as does Facebook. Here is a screenshot of the Google Play Store's Top Free Apps:
#1. Facebook Messenger
#4. Instagram (Facebook)
Notable others: music has #3 and #11 with Pandora and Spotify, respectively. King has games at #8 and #12 with Candy Crush and Bubble Witch 2. And Netflix is #7.
A few obvious themes and a couple apps associated with them:
- Gaming. Games make up the majority of the most successful paid applications. Examples: Angry Birds, Cut The Rope, Electronic Arts, etc.
- Photos. There are numerous successful apps around photos - either as a network (Path (company), Instagram, etc) or around functionality (Hipstamatic, etc). They are improving a core utility around the device itself. Neither Path nor Instagram launched with web components. And Hipstamatic and others are entirely on the phone.
- Local & Device-Related Companies. Applications where location and/or the device are required components. Examples like FlightTrack, Uber (formerly UberCab), Shazam, etc.
During today's NFL playoffs game, you may have seen the Blackberry spot featuring Blackberry's App World and the Urbanspoon application. The advertisement is well done and features small business owners (right in Blackberry's sweet spot) who use the Urbanspoon app to find new restaurants (seems like a reach?).
However, the ad comes over two years later than Apple's iPhone Urbanspoon ad (featured in November 2008) and screams 'me too'.... which is exactly what Blackberry (and iPhone competitors) should be wary of: it's been available on the iPhone for years and, for various reasons, is probably a better application on the iPhone.
Blackberry should be focusing on one of two things:
1. Content and applications that are unique to Blackberry. For cross-platform applications, chances are they were available on the iPhone first... and that they are generally better on the iPhone.
2. Content and application aimed specifically at Blackberry's core competencies: business and email. This is why the Urbanspoon ad comes off as "me too" and off-brand. It's also why I don't understand the focus on Blackberry Messenger campaigns (which, by the way, seems short-lived with apps the rise of social group apps like Groupme, Beluga, Kik, etc).