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.

Photography

Get up close and personal with this telephoto lens for your phone

Moment is replacing its aging 60mm telephoto lens with a new 58mm tele lens, redesigned from the ground up for the latest iPhone, Pixel, and Galaxy phones. Mount it onto the phone via a case and get closer with 2x optical zoom.
Computing

Our favorite Windows apps will help you get the most out of your new PC

Not sure what apps you should be downloading for your newfangled Windows device? Here are the best Windows apps, whether you need something to speed up your machine or access your Netflix queue. Check out our categories and favorite picks.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix, from 'The Haunting of Hill House’ to ‘The Good Place’

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Movies & TV

Disney+ streaming service gets a new name, logo, and more confirmed content

Disney is bringing the full weight of its massive content library to its own streaming service in 2019. How will Disney+ compare to Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime? Here's what we know so far.
Movies & TV

‘Pacific Rim’ and ‘Altered Carbon’ anime series headed to Netflix

Netflix will bring a bunch of new anime series to its streaming library in 2019, including shows based on the Pacific Rim movie franchise and the live-action, sci-fi series Altered Carbon.
Mobile

Master your new Nokia 7.1 with our favorite tips and tricks

At $350, the Nokia 7.1 is a nearly perfect budget phone. It has a gorgeous body, good hardware, and a capable camera. Recently purchased the Nokia 7.1? Here are a few of our favorite tips and tricks to get you started with your new phone.
Mobile

Android will finally get a faster sharing menu, but it might take a while

The Android sharing menu has gotten a whole lot better over the years, but it's also gotten slower. Thankfully, however, it seems as though Google is working on a better, faster sharing menu but, unfortunately, it may take a while.
Wearables

Check out 25 of the best Wear OS apps for your smartwatch

Looking for some ways to spruce up that new Android smartwatch of yours? Here are the best Wear OS apps to download and use with any Android smartwatch, including a few specially enhanced for Wear OS 2.0.
Mobile

The best iPhone XR cases to keep your phone shiny and new

Apple's new iPhone range is the toast of 2018, with beautiful style and more power than you can shake a stick at. But beauty can often be fragile -- keep the damage to a minimum with the best iPhone XR cases.
Computing

A dead pixel doesn't mean a dead display. Here's how to repair it

Dead pixel got you down? We don't blame you. Check out our guide on how to fix a dead pixel and save yourself that costly screen replacement, or an unwanted trip to your local repair shop.
Mobile

The 100 best Android apps turn your phone into a jack-of-all-trades

Choosing which apps to download is tricky, especially given how enormous and cluttered the Google Play Store has become. We rounded up 100 of the best Android apps and divided them neatly, with each suited for a different occasion.
Cars

Lime’s first carsharing service motors into Seattle this week

Lime may be better known for its app-based bike and scooter rental services, but in Seattle, Washington this week it's launching its very first carsharing service, similar to Car2go and Zipcar.
Photography

Golf ball-sized Lume Cube Air is a pocketable LED for photos and video

Off-camera lighting for smartphones and GoPros just got even smaller. Meet the Lume Cube Air, a smaller portable LED light designed for photos and videos that weighs only about two ounces.
Deals

Black Friday 2018: The best deals so far

Black Friday is the biggest shopping holiday of the year, and it will be here before you know it. If you can't wait until November 23 to start formulating a shopping plan, we've got you covered.