updated 06:10 pm EDT, Thu August 19, 2010
BBerry App World matches Apple on price limits
RIM tonight took BlackBerry App World 2.0 out of beta and made it available to the wider BlackBerry community with a change to price policies meant to counter Apple. The company is now dropping its minimum $2.99 requirement for paid apps and will allow both 99-cent and $1.99 apps into the store. Free apps have always been an option.
The change comes as RIM has struggled to spark widespread interest in developing for the BlackBerry. Despite regularly selling more phones than both Apple and Google's Android partners, RIM has roughly 9,000 apps where Android may have already passed 100,000 and Apple is known to be over 225,000.
Factors behind slow RIM development have been numerous, but price has played a role as it has forced companies to charge more even when they were willing to charge less, stalling sales. The relative difficulty of writing apps until at least BlackBerry 6 has also influenced decisions to support the platform, as has the lack of any significant 3D support and the unwillingness to preload the App World portal out of the box until the BlackBerry Torch.
Other changes are broad and both catch up with other app stores as well as take it ahead in some areas. Customers now finally have a sign-on, or BlackBerry ID, they can use to re-download apps rather than having them linked to certain hardware. Apps are now visible by category, and owners of camera-equipped BlackBerry phones can take photos of Android-style QR codes to jump to an app. Shoppers can opt to have apps billed to their phone bills or to a credit card instead of having to use RIM's previous PayPal-only option.
The update is available through a manual check but should push to everyone within hours.