Research In Motion on Tuesday announced it will be offering an online application storefront, as well as an on-device application center to make it easier for BlackBerry users to search for, purchase, and download programs for their handsets.
BlackBerry applications have been available on sites like Handango for years, but this announcement gives BlackBerry users an equivalent of Apple's App Store for the iPhone, or the Android Market for the G1. The announcements were made at the first BlackBerry Developer Conference in Santa Clara, Calif.
"The new BlackBerry application storefront and BlackBerry application centers will further support the growing BlackBerry ecosystem and help bridge consumers with developers and carriers as more and more innovative and interesting applications arrive," said Mike Lazaridis, president and co-CEO of RIM, in a statement.
RIM plans to launch the storefront in March 2009, and developers can begin submitting content in December. The company is currently asking for signups by interested developers. It appears RIM will be taking a similar approach to Apple in that it will vet what goes in the store.
Additionally, RIM is working with PayPal for transactions, and content creators will be able to keep 80% of the revenue generated from their application. Apple takes a 30% cut from apps that are sold, and Google said it will not take any of the revenue when apps are eventually sold in the Android Market.
Organizations that have deployed BlackBerry Enterprise Server or BlackBerry Professional Software will retain control of what applications can be downloaded to BlackBerry smartphones within their corporate deployments.
With the app store and the introduction of a variety of consumer-friendly devices like the BlackBerry Flip, Curve, and the upcoming touch-screen Storm, RIM is aggressively going after the "prosumer" and the casual market. During a keynote Tuesday, Lazaridis said the company's roots and success in the enterprise market will give it a competitive advantage as it competes in the consumer market.
"This platform has been developed, evolved, and perfected in the most demanding markets around the world," Lazaridis said to a large group of developers. "The consumer wireless data market is taking off, and that's a great opportunity for all of you."
As mobile devices become more prevalent and deeply ingrained in employees' work lives, the question of how to deploy, secure, and manage them has become an increasingly pressing problem for enterprise IT departments. InformationWeek has published an analysis of this issue as it pertains to BlackBerry devices. Download the report here (registration required).