RIM Buys Mobile App Store Infrastructure Provider Cellmania

In an effort to beef up its BlackBerry App World marketplace, Research In Motion this week announced it will acquire Cellmania, Mountain View, Calif.-based content delivery and app store infrastructure software provider.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

It's the latest effort by Research In Motion (NASDAQ: RIMM) to strengthen its downloadable app store. In June, RIM announced App World 2.0, a major upgrade of its online application store for BlackBerry users and developers.

While already facing mounting pressure from several countries to open up its networks to allow for some degree of monitoring lest they force it to discontinue its BlackBerry service in their areas, RIM was hit with a double whammy of bad news this month when The NPD Group said in a report that more Android-based smartphones were sold in the second quarter, knocking RIM's BlackBerry from the top spot for the first time since the fourth quarter of 2007.

To reverse this trend and fend off competition from Android and iPhone devices, RIM knows it must make significant investments in its own online app store if it intends to remain relevant in the booming smartphone industry.

Cellmania, which supports (and will continue to support) RIM competitors such as Sprint and T-Mobile, bills its mFinder application as a "complete turnkey white-label content system with content management, digital rights management and over-the-air delivery."

Still, RIM faces an uphill challenge to compete with Apple's App Store and Google's (NASDAQ: GOOG) Android Market for the hearts and minds of developers and smartphone users.

According to the latest data compiled by market research firm Ovum, total mobile application downloads will grow by an astonishing 41 percent annually for the next five years, reaching a peak of 21.2 billion downloads by 2015.

Last year, smartphone users downloaded a comparatively tiny total of 2.69 billion apps.

Apple's (NASDAQ: AAPL) App Store led the way with 69 percent of all downloads last year and figures to remain in the catbird's seat, though Android apps are expected to make up considerable ground. Ovum predicting Android's share of mobile downloads to increase from 14 percent last year to 26 percent by 2015.

Ovum's outlook for the BlackBerry platform is less promising. It predicts BlackBerry will continue to lose overall smartphone share even as its portion of the mobile application download market grows from 5 percent last year to 17 percent by 2015.

Larry Barrett is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.


Android, Blackberry, iPhone, mobile applications, RIM