If BlackBerry can’t convince Netflix to make an app, does it really stand a chance?

galaxy note 10.1 tablet review netflix screenshot samsung tablet

After years of mistakes and missed opportunities, BlackBerry 10 is a credible release from the beleaguered Canadian company formerly known as RIM. We can imagine how BB10 might revive the company and make it competitive in the smartphone market once more. Early reports of how well it’s going down with consumers are mixed, but there is one issue that keeps cropping up: the apps. Last week, we heard once again that Netflix has no plans for a BB10 app. This could be a major sign of trouble.

We wondered during the launch whether BB10 has the apps it needs to take on Android and iOS. Plenty of big names made the launch list, but the high profile omissions have been generating headlines. Netflix is merely one name on a list that includes apps like Instagram, Spotify, TripIt, YouTube, Temple Run, Google apps, Yahoo Mail, Seamless, IMDB, Flipboard, Nike+, HBO Go, Hulu Plus, eBay, PayPal, Square, and many others. BlackBerry 10 does have over 70,000 apps on offer, but it’s missing some of the actual apps people want, and it may not be getting them anytime soon.

The Netflix problem

There are now over 33 million subscribers to the Netflix service worldwide and since one subscription serves an entire household we can safely assume user numbers are several times that figure. We don’t have exact figures for the number of Netflix apps that have been downloaded, but on Android it is between 10 and 50 million and there are over 350,000 user reviews. On iTunes there are well over 200,000 reviews so it’s a safe bet that there are several million people using Netflix on the iPhone and iPad, as well. According to research by NPD Group (shown below) 13 percent of tablet owners and 8 percent of smartphone owners in the U.S. access Netflix on those devices.

NPDGroup_Netflix

This isn’t just about the Netflix users who may be discouraged from choosing BlackBerry 10 because there’s no dedicated app, it’s about the lack of clout that BlackBerry has. In the summer of 2012 RIM’s VP of Developer Relations, Alec Saunders, answered a couple of questions from fans by saying “If Netflix asked, we would have a team of developers at their site within 24 hours. #myth #busted.”

BlackBerry PR spokesman, Alex Kinsella, recently told AllThingsD, “At this time, it’s in Netflix’s court to join the excitement around BlackBerry 10 — we hope they choose to bring a BlackBerry 10 experience to their customers. We’d love to have them.”

How hard could it be?

Why it isn’t Netflix developing a dedicated BB10 app? Speculation suggests that there is simply no incentive. But more likely, Netflix has come to the conclusion that developing and maintaining a BlackBerry 10 app would not be cost effective, even with BlackBerry’s help.

Netflix is something of a special case, when compared to other popular apps. Its mobile apps do not reel in new customers; they simply extend the usefulness of the movie streaming service for existing subscribers. The vast majority of Netflix subscribers use their HDTV, laptop, or computer to watch content. The implication is that Android and iOS customers demand Netflix service on their devices and, because there are millions of them, Netflix must oblige. That suggests that Netflix doesn’t believe BB10 currently has, or will have in the near future, a user base big enough to bother with. For a service that is usually on new platforms (see: Wii U) when they launch, that lack of confidence is the worrying thing for BlackBerry, and it may be having an impact on the wider development community.

netflix-windows-phone

Changing perceptions

People don’t care about having hundreds of thousands of apps on a platform. Most people use a small set of apps and they use them frequently. If you drew up a list of the top hundred apps across all platforms, apps like Netflix and Instagram would certainly be on it. The fact that they aren’t on BB10 looks like a vote of no confidence in the platform. If these companies can’t see a reason to develop for BB10 despite the relatively low cost for them then why will other major developers create BB10 apps? It’s not just miss out on some of the top apps of today; it may miss out on the top apps of tomorrow, as well.

BlackBerry has been seriously battered in the tech press over the last few years. With BB10, it is finally doing the right thing to the best of its abilities. The problem is that success is driven by perception, and it looks like a lot of people expect BB10 to fail. If BlackBerry can’t do something to change that perception then it has no chance at all. 

The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not reflect the beliefs of Digital Trends.

Home Theater

Tipping point? Streaming subscribers outnumbered cable in 2018 for first time

2018 was a very good year for the entertainment business as a whole, but it was especially good for streaming companies like Netflix and Amazon, says a new report by the Motion Picture Association of America.
Home Theater

Hulu vs. Amazon Prime Video: Which streaming service is best for you?

It's hard to dispute Netflix's leadership in on-demand streaming video, it's not alone. Two great alternatives are Amazon Prime Video and Hulu; each with its strengths and weaknesses. Which one is better? We pick the winner.
Movies & TV

MoviePass returns to unlimited movies plan, but with plenty of restrictions

Troubled subscription-based movie service MoviePass is making headlines on a daily basis lately, and not in a good way. Here's a timeline of events for the company once described as Netflix for movie theaters.
Movies & TV

Netflix confirms it won’t be a part of Apple’s new video-streaming service

Netflix has confirmed that subscribers to Apple's new video streaming service won't have the option to view Netflix content on it. Apple is set to unveil its new TV service next week.
Mobile

Diesel’s denim-inspired smartwatch straps are a casual, colorful must-own

Diesel will release two new versions of the On Full Guard 2.5 smartwatch later this year, with seriously cool, denim-inspired straps in classic Diesel colors. We tried them on at the Baselworld 2019 show.
Movies & TV

Apple’s next big event is set for March 25: Here’s what you can expect

Apple's next big event takes place on March 25 in Cupertino, California. The company is expected to make several announcements related to its services, including Apple TV, so follow our guide to get ready for the big event.
Mobile

How three simple words could be the difference between life and death

What3Words’ app-based address system gives a three-word code to every three-meter-square patch on the planet, with its accuracy and ease of use now catching the attention of first responders in the U.K.
Wearables

Tips and tricks to get you started with your new Fitbit Inspire HR

The Inspire HR may be an entry-level fitness tracker in Fitbit's lineup, but the device still has plenty of features to explore. These are our favorite tips and tricks to help you use the Inspire HR to its fullest potential.
Mobile

The Moto G7 Power, with its massive battery, is now available for purchase

After a number of leaks and rumors, the Motorola Moto G7, Moto G7 Play, and Moto G7 Power are finally here. The devices represent quite a spec bump over the previous-generation Moto G6 phones, yet still come at a reasonable price.
Mobile

Got gadgets galore? Keep them charged up with the 10 best USB-C cables

We're glad to see that USB-C is quickly becoming the norm. That's why we've rounded up some of the better USB-C cables on the market, whether you're looking to charge or sync your smartphone. We've got USB-C to USB-C and USB-C to USB-A.
Computing

Get ready to say goodbye to some IFTTT support in Gmail by March 31

If This Then That, the popular automation service, will drop some of its support for Gmail by March 31. The decision comes as a response to security concerns and is aimed to protect user data.
Mobile

5G's arrival is transforming tech. Here's everything you need to know to keep up

It has been years in the making, but 5G is finally becoming a reality. While 5G coverage is still extremely limited, expect to see it expand in 2019. Not sure what 5G even is? Here's everything you need to know.
Mobile

This is the easiest way to save your iPhone data to your computer

Living in fear of losing your contacts, photos, messages, and notes on your iPhone? Fear no more -- in this guide, we'll break down exactly how to back up your iPhone to your computer using Apple's iTunes or to the cloud with iCloud.
Wearables

The Tacs Nato-Lens is a watch for those who live life through a camera lens

Not all watches have to be round, or connect to your phone. The Tacs Nato-Lens is a stylish piece of wristwear with a design inspired by classic SLR cameras, making it a geeky timepiece for the camera and watch fan.