BlackBerry Targets iPhone, Android With Application Store
Andrew R. Hickey
At the BlackBerry Developer Conference on Tuesday BlackBerry maker Research In Motion (RIM) Ltd. announced plans to offer an online Application Store Front and a new on-device application center.
According to RIM, the Application Store Front will launch in March 2009 and BlackBerry application developers can start submitting their applications and content for inclusion in December.
"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 RIM co-CEO and president Mike Lazaridis in a statement.
RIM said the storefront will let developers set their own prices for applications, similar to Apple's AppStore, and developers will retain 80 percent of the revenue brought in from their applications. To facilitate payments, RIM is working with eBay-owned online payment service PayPal to provide consumers with a payment method for applications within the storefront, which will let BlackBerry users buy applications directly from their smart phones.
And while Apple's AppStore caught flack for offering dozens of applications deemed as useless and unproductive, BlackBerry said it plans to allow companies with BlackBerry Enterprise Server or BlackBerry Professional Software to have control over which applications users can download and use.
Launching an application storefront is another move by RIM to target a new base of users, shedding BlackBerry's decade-long history as a corporate-only business tool and becoming a consumer-friendly device as well. Recently, BlackBerry has launched a host of new devices with consumers in mind, including the BlackBerry Pearl Flip 8220 and its first ever touch screen device the BlackBerry Storm. The Storm pits RIM head-to-head against other touch screen titans like the Google Android-based T-Mobile G1 and the Apple iPhone 3G, both of which feature application stores of their own.
RIM is also working with carriers to offer carrier-customized, on-device application centers, similar to the already available on-device distribution systems for individual software applications like the Facebook for BlackBerry application. RIM said it is already working with carriers to roll out the BlackBerry application center on future smart phone releases.
Along with the application store, RIM also announced BlackBerry Web Signals technology for developers, which uses BlackBerry's push technology to let online content providers notify BlackBerry users when relevant content has been published and to allow one-click access to the information online. BlackBerry said content providers will offer a range of services to let users stay connected to news, weather, sports, entertainment, financial information and more. BlackBerry said a host of developers are set to launch services powered by BlackBerry Web Signals, including CBC, Dada.net, Thumbplay and Washingtonpost.com. In the case of Washingtonpost.com, with Web Signals a users Washington Post icon on the home screen will change to reflect a breaking story or other topics that users sign up to receive.
BlackBerry said the new tools and technologies will include a new plug-in for Eclipse developers and new features for the BlackBerry Plug-In for Microsoft Visual Studio that support Web development capabilities, as well as support for Gears, enabling Web applications to run as standalone applications on BlackBerry devices.
And to streamline mobile application development, BlackBerry's developer tool updates include a new public beta of the BlackBerry JDE Plug-In for Eclipse as well as a new release of the BlackBerry Plug-In for Microsoft Visual Studio, BlackBerry MDS Studio and Plazmic Content Developer's Kit for the BlackBerry platform.