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Richard Karpinski Rich Karpinski is Executive Editor-Features for Telephony, covering OSS/BSS and NGN technologies. He has worked for many high-tech trade magazines and Web sites and began his career...more

RIM opens doors to BlackBerry App World

Research In Motion today opened the doors to its long-awaited BlackBerry App World, the hardware maker’s effort to stay on par with Apple and others and to woo third-party developers with its well-established business users and rapidly growing consumer base. Co-CEO and president Mike Lazaridis officially unveiled BlackBerry’s app strategy at his keynote today, just one day after Microsoft offered more details on its version, Windows Marketplace for Mobile.

Developers will pay $200 to submit 10 apps, which includes updates or resubmissions of rejected apps. In return, apps that are certified by the developer and by RIM will make it into the store giving developers 80% of revenues earned 10% more than on Apple or Microsoft. Hoping to weed out the frivolous, albeit popular, apps the iPhone attracted, App World paid apps will, start at $2.99, in addition to its free ones. Consumers must download App World online and can then buy apps through a PayPal account.

The installed base of BlackBerrys outweighs iPhone’s with RIM capturing 19.5% market share in the fourth quarter compared to Apple’s 10.7%. RIM will announce its earnings tomorrow after issuing revised guidance in February that suggested it was its lower-end handsets that were having the most success in the down market. App World will span both the lower and higher-end handsets in the U.S., Canada and UK where it will be available on all BlackBerrys with track balls - including Pearls, Curves, Flips, the Bold and the 8800 series phones.

RIM’s 13 categories of apps will include a slew of productivity-oriented apps, such as The New York Times, Google Voice Search and a hotel reservation services and consumers favorites like Facebook and MySpace, which have already been downloaded one million times on BlackBerry. RIM is also focused on expanding its music prowess through the app store. U2’s Bono and Edge chimed in to Lazaridis’ keynote via video to announce a partnership with BlackBerry to bring artists and fans together on smartphones as RIM extends its music prowess with apps like Slacker, Pandora, Shazam, iheartradio and others.

Also amongst the apps in App World is a new video download service from QuickPlay Media to be offered as an unlimited monthly subscription service for videos downloaded using Wi-Fi connections. MobiTV already provides a streaming, business-focused mobile video service to the BlackBerry Bold, but this service will let users download entire episodes over Wi-Fi that will load in the background as they continue using the phone’s other functions. The PrimeTime2Go service will include full-length popular TV shows from QuickPlay’s agreements with leading TV networks. Available from App World, the service will cost a monthly fee of $7.99 and is available on the Bold and Curve8900, but not on Verizon’s Storm, which lacks a Wi-Fi connection.

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