Top 5 South African Apps on BlackBerry App World

Despite increasing pressure on the BlackBerry brand and worldwide sales decreases, the BlackBerry brand is stronger than ever in Africa. BIS is still a very compelling deal in SA with its high data prices. But Blackberry’s App World still has very few apps, which was one of our primary criticisms against our recent review of the otherwise brilliant BlackBerry Bold 9900.
South African developers are also slow to adopt BlackBerry, as the choice of apps might suggest. But still we think it is necessary to focus on some the good Made in SA BlackBerry apps, scarce as they might be. Here is our favourite South African developed BlackBerry apps.
1) News24

There are only a few app developers in SA who cater for multiple mobile app platforms, and News24 is one of them. While the app is by no means as sexy as the iPhone and Android versions, it is functional and stable. Using a similiar structure to the other News24 apps, the app also focusses more on weather with a quick 3 days summary of upcoming weather. Users can also check Lotto results, but cannot seem to see comments, just like with the iPhone and Android. As many would agree, it is sometimes more interesting to see people’s comments on article than the article itself. Maybe we can see this in future.

2) FNB

The other banks in SA really needs to sit up and take notice of how FNB is embracing mobile banking. In a very short time frame FNB has developed apps for the top smartphone devices, and the BlackBerry is one of them. The feature list looks good, and it seems like the BlackBerry version is not some cut down version either. Access to your bank accounts, payments, transfers and prepaid purchases are all there on an easy to use interface. While a mobile app is not necessarily an innovation anymore, in SA it is still a big competitive advantage in the banking sector. Other banks still force you to use outdated WAP or USSD based “cellphone banking” services. Well done FNB.
3) Private Property

The internet has become essential for anyone in the house buying game, but users are still stuck behind their computer to do effective searches. Private Property’s BlackBerry app will help you search for property with a bunch of criteria in an area you choose, and then you can also view images and details of the property you are interested in. The one missing piece is GPS functionality, which is being added in version 2, in February 2012. You will then be able to search for houses on sale around you – great for people on a weekend house hunt.
4) DsTV Drifta for BlackBerry

The DsTV Drifta is already one of our favourite devices on the iPhone and Android, and it is great to see it now compatible with BlackBerry as well. The concept is simple – if you are a DsTV Premium subscriber you can buy the Drifta device for around R600, which then enables you to watch a choice selection of channels from most urban areas. This is great for regular travellers who need to get their TV fix from anywhere. Best of all is that the Drifta app is compatible on a wide range of BlackBerry phones, even the lower end 8520. But the Torch is notably absent. Right now the software is still in Beta, so expect broader support to the larger screened devices like the Torch in future.
5) PowerTime
If you use prepaid electricity, you might have been in the situation where your power runs out late at night, and you really do not want to drive to a place that can give out power vouchers. PowerTime comes to the rescue – the system is first rate, allowing you to purchase prepaid electricity using only your username and password, and then the prepaid PIN is displayed on your screen. There is two versions, so look for the “PowerTime Full” version for better functionality. Avoid the “Lite” version.
We have always been fans of PowerTime, but we were hesitant to add it to this list. Right now PowerTime is in a bit of a battle with the City of Cape Town, and as a result the software is not working for Capetonians. Other municipalities do however still have the ability to use PowerTime.
PS: If you are a South African who develops for BlackBerry, please add it to Marc Forrest’s form: