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1/20/2009
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BlackBerry's App Store Gets A Step Closer

The Application Storefront has started taking submissions, and the catalog is expected to be filled with enterprise and entertainment apps.




BlackBerry Curve 8900
(click for image gallery)

Research In Motion announced it is accepting developer submissions for its Application Storefront, an over-the-air online catalog of mobile applications that users can download to a BlackBerry smartphone.

With Apple's App Store seeing unprecedented success and bringing mobile applications to the forefront, RIM is calling for developers around the globe to populate its store for the expected launch in March.

"The market for BlackBerry applications is growing at a phenomenal rate and the application storefront will offer you the exciting opportunity to showcase your applications to millions of BlackBerry smartphone users," the company said on its Web site. "It will provide consumers with greater choice, and enhanced application discovery."

The company said apps have to be able to be downloaded wirelessly and must be usable without requiring customization or integration services. RIM is working with PayPal for transactions, and developers will get to keep 80% of the revenue generated from their applications. By comparison, Apple takes a 30% cut from programs sold in its mobile store, and Google vowed to not take any of the revenue when apps are eventually sold in its Android Market.

It remains unclear what the vetting process will be for content and functionality in the Application Storefront. Apple is generally seen as strict, as it does not allow content that competes with or duplicates existing functionality of the iPhone. By contrast, Google's Android Market is more open to what type of mobile programs it enables users to download.

With its strong position in the enterprise market, it's safe to assume there will be plenty of business and productivity programs in the store. This shouldn't cause headaches for IT departments though, as organizations that have deployed BlackBerry Enterprise Server or BlackBerry Professional Software will retain control of what applications can be downloaded to BlackBerrys within corporate deployments.

RIM knows that BlackBerrys are increasingly being used in the casual or prosumer market, and the store is likely to have multiple "lifestyle" apps from the likes of MySpace, TiVo, Slacker, and others. Music will likely play a large role, as co-CEO Jim Balsillie said in a recent interview that he expects to see dozens of next-generation music apps once the app store opens.

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