RIM Promises New Tools For BlackBerry App Developers

"We will help developers further monetize their applications and build breakthrough, highly responsive, location-aware applications for BlackBerry smartphones," said Jim Balsillie, Co-CEO at RIM, in a statement. "RIM is continuing to provide the tools, technologies and business services that developers need to create and market even more powerful and successful applications on the BlackBerry Application Platform."

RIM's announcement comes just a few days after rival Apple announced that there are now 100,000 applications available for its iPhone through Apple's App Store. Apple has long touted the breadth of its third-party applications as a benefit to the iPhone platform and now it appears RIM is ready to strike back.

Among the new developments for RIM application providers now is the BlackBerry Advertising Service, in which RIM will provide a "large pool of quality and innovative ad untis from trusted top-tier and specialty advertising networks," according to RIM.

The tool will make it easier to initiate a call from an advertisement, add a calender or contact entry from an ad, or directly link to an application in the BlackBerry App World from an ad. A software development kit is planned for the first half of 2010, according to RIM.

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In addition, the new BlackBerry Payment Service will allow developers to sell digital content on a subscription basis or provide additional levels or upgrades to applications by incorporating merchant services and customer billing. The SDK for this service is expected in the middle of 2010, according to RIM.

Also, the BlackBerry Push Service, which has been exclusive to BlackBerry Alliance Program members, will be made publicly available to registered developers in the first half of next year.

Finally, RIM has introduced three "location-aware" services to help developers take advantage of its GPS capabilities. Cell site geolocation estimates a smartphone's location based on cell tower triangulation and is generally faster than GPS and uses less battery power, according to RIM.

The second service, reverse geocoding, converts geolocation coordinates to a specific address for use in BlackBerry applications. The third service, called travel time, allows developers to incorporate estimated travel time within their applications, according to RIM.