updated 12:45 pm EDT, Wed June 16, 2010
BB App World 2 brings accounts, carrier billing
RIM in an early release detailed a major overhaul to BlackBerry App World. The version 2.0 store now catches up to other mobile app portals and adds a sign-on system known as BlackBerry ID. Customers no longer have app purchases tied to their carrier or device and can sign on to other phones to re-download their apps for free.
Payment is also easier. App World now allows carrier billing and adds purchases to the regular phone bill on carriers that support it; previously, shoppers had to use PayPal to buy any paid apps. PayPal will still be an option but is no longer necessary when carrier billing exists.
Finding apps has been simplified, as apps can now have an Android-style QR code that takes camera-equipped BlackBerries directly to the download in App World by taking a photo. Searches in the store should produce more relevant results, and the My World section will have more info about already installed apps, such as whether they're located on internal memory or a microSD card.
It's not clear when App World 2.0 will roll out to the public and whether BlackBerry ID and carrier billing would be ready at the same time.
The features bring much needed updates to the BlackBerry's third-party app support, which has been languishing compared to newer platforms. Android and the iPhone, which have already had single sign-ons and more direct purchasing methods since 2008, have over 50,000 and 225,000 apps respectively; the policy decisions haven't necessarily been the primary causes but have made it easier to get paid apps and to continue buying apps between device upgrades. RIM's store so far sits at about 7,000 apps even after more than a year and with a larger device market share.