updated 11:55 am EDT, Tue October 21, 2008
BlackBerry App Store
Research in Motion today confirmed the existence of its rumored BlackBerry Application Center, the company's attempt to parallel the iPhone's App Store. The portal will serve as a central hub for BlackBerry owners looking to download and manage apps instead of the web downloads and separate stores used before. Like Apple's offering, customers can buy directly from the software and apply upgrades; a new twist adds the ability to delete software without finding it in the regular BlackBerry OS layer.
The Canadian smartphone producer plans to outperform Apple by improving the financial appeal for both carriers and developers. Unlike with the iPhone, providers will have the ability to customize the App Center that faces the customer and tailor it to the particular network, including the ability to filter out undesirable apps or offer extra apps of its own. Software teams will also potentially generate more revenue: where iTunes developers receive a flat 70 percent of income from each paid app, RIM plans to increase that portion to 80 percent for BlackBerry software.
Contrary to expectations that the App Center would be available in time with the launch of the BlackBerry Storm, RIM only plans to start accepting app submissions in December and will formally roll out the App Center to BlackBerries in March of next year.
Introducing and spurring growth in the App Center is key to supporting a "groundswell" of interest in making home-friendly apps for BlackBerries, RIM president Mike Lazaridis claims.
The unveiling comes at a crucial point in sales for the smartphone line, which has come under increasing pressure from Apple in North America and is now believed to be suffering in the non-business space. Early NPD Group results have the iPhone overtaking the Curve in the summer, while a recent Pacific Crest analyst note has warned of poor Pearl Flip sales despite the phone's newness and relatively low price.