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How many apps will BlackBerry 10 actually have at launch?

As the launch of BlackBerry 10 draws ever closer, so discussion of the amount of applications which will be available at launch increases. The size of an operating system’s application store has become a measure of success, rightly or wrongly, with Apple and Google both regularly fighting it out to stay at the top of the charts.

Research in Motion’s BlackBerry World has to be populated with new applications, a task which relies on developers. To get them motivated, RIM has offered a variety of cash reward plans and reminded them at every opportunity just how important they are to BB 10’s success.

The company has now confirmed that at its final Port-A-Thon event, where developers port existing Android and non-Android apps over to BlackBerry 10, it received another 19,071 application submissions. Add these to the 15,000 it garnered at a previous event, and it brings the Port-A-Thon total up to more than 34,000 apps all waiting for RIM’s approval.

This doesn’t mean BlackBerry 10 owners will have that figure to choose from when they take delivery of their new phones in a couple of months. Don’t forget, RIM still has to approve every app submitted, so a few are sure to be deemed substandard and won’t go on sale. So how many apps can we expect to be hanging out inside its newly rebranded BlackBerry World store?

70K or 104K?

A quick glance at the official BlackBerry App World figures from last May reveals there were nearly 100,000 apps inside, with 25,000 of them designed for the PlayBook. While not all the BlackBerry phone apps will be ported across, most of the PlayBook apps should be, as it’s supposed to be a quick and easy process. RIM is surely hoping for up to half the total amount of old apps to make their way across to BlackBerry 10.

There are two numbers related to the projected app total being banded around: 70,000 and 104,000. Let’s look at where these estimates have come from, starting with 70,000. This amount was first mentioned during an interview with RIM’s CMO Frank Boulben in December last year, and again in January. The 70,000 figure was repeated again by CEO Thorsten Heins in an interview with Die Welt this week. Given the difference in time between the two instances, it’s probably RIM’s most conservative estimate.

The 104,000 figure has popped up in a few places recently, including TechCrunch and TechinAsia, and both use a blog named SuperCass as their source. The article is anonymous, but does appear to be written by someone with experience in app development; however, there’s no corresponding source for the 104,000 app estimate. As you have probably worked out though, 104,000 is simply the sum of the 34,000 Port-A-Thon total and Boulben’s and Heins’ 70,000 figure.

Probably closer to 70K

So, mystery solved, right? Well, maybe not. In October last year, RIM’s Director of UK and Ireland operations Rob Orr, also happened to say the company had 104,000 apps for BB 10 in place at that time. There’s no way he could’ve known how many apps would appear during the Port-A-Thon events, and his words predate the 70,000 estimates.

As Research in Motion waits for its January 30 launch event to confirm app numbers, there’s currently no way to know for sure how many will be waiting for us. Of the two figures being quoted though, we’d imagine RIM took its Port-A-Thon events into account when coming up with the 70,000 estimate. Heins also didn’t take the opportunity to revise the figure in his interview, even though at the time, he would have known the first event had yielded 15,000 app submissions. Whatever the amount turns out to be, let’s remember that although we pay attention to these numbers, it’s quality not quantity that matters.

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