RIM Announces Blackberry App Store

It was only a matter of time before RIM caught on to Google’s heat, and now the company plans to launch an applications store of its own.

Although BlackBerry users already have access to third-party software from sites such as BPlay, Handango and even Crackberry.com, users will be able to purchase and download applications in the same manner as Google’s Android Market and Apple’s App Store. However, the BlackBerry applications store won’t launch until March 2009 as revealed at the recent BlackBerry Developer Conference.

“The BlackBerry platform enjoys strong roots in the enterprise market and we continue to invest for growth and success with our enterprise channel partners, but the introduction of more consumer-friendly features in BlackBerry smartphones has clearly helped generate a groundswell of interest with new developers that has already resulted in the introduction of thousands of consumer and lifestyle oriented applications for BlackBerry smartphones,” said Mike Lazaridis, President and Co-CEO at Research In Motion. “The new BlackBerry application storefront and BlackBerry application centers will further support the growing BlackBerry ecosystem and help bridge consumers with developers and carriers as more and more innovative and interesting applications arrive.”

According to RIM, BlackBerry developers can begin submitting their applications in December, and will be allowed to set their own prices if their applications are approved for the storefront. RIM in turn will collect 20 percent of the revenue earned from each sale ; Apple takes a 30 percent chunk from applications sold in its store, and Google claims that it will not require any revenue when the store eventually launches.

RIM is currently working with PayPal to integrate its payment system into the store as well as with its carrier partners to provide an alternative to the online store, "carrier-customized, on-device application centers to help foster after-market application downloads." These centers will provide an on-phone catalog where customers can purchase and download applications over the air. Organizations that have deployed BlackBerry Enterprise Server or BlackBerry Professional Software will retain control of what applications can be downloaded to BlackBerry smartphones within their corporate deployments.

In August, Google announced it would launch an applications store for its Android smartphone, mimicking the success of rival Apple’s iPhone App Store. Although the global giant will not thoroughly dissect applications sold in the store, Google did state that it has the right to remotely uninstall and application not following the developer’s agreement. Apple also finally admitted to a secret entrance in its iPhone, citing similar reasons. While RIM has not officially announced any intentions, it is highly likely follow the same path, updating the BlackBerry OS once the applications store launches in March (if a backdoor isn’t already present with the 4.5 release).

There’s no question that the mobile smartphone market is a good business not to mention loads of fun for the consumer. RIM’s BlackBerry Apps Store seems like a step in the right direction. Hopefully online outlets already selling BlackBerry applications won’t see a huge hit in the revenue department.

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