RIM Flips Switch on App World 2.1

Research In Motion today announced that BlackBerry App World 2.1 is now live and offers support for in-application payments using its BlackBerry payment service.

The lack of an in-app payment platform for BlackBerry apps was widely viewed by mobile app developers-- particularly games developers-- as a good reason to ignore the BlackBerry platform in favor of writing for either Apple's (NASDAQ: AAPL) iOS mobile OS or Google's (NASDAQ: GOOG) Android platform.

It was during its BlackBerry Developers Conference, in September, that Research In Motion (NASDAQ: RIMM) executives first announced plans to open up its mobile application store, but insisted the move wasn't merely an attempt to keep up with its competitors.

"We're giving full access to the underlying APIs and the fact that we're making the platform extensible to partners is unique," Alan Brenner, senior vice president for the BlackBerry platform, said at the time. "We're giving developers opportunities they won't find anywhere else."

With App World 2.1, developers will be able to add and charge for additional content -- think higher levels of action or fantasy games or virtual goods -- using the payment service SDK, giving them another source of revenue, and reason to write for the BlackBerry. Consumers get an opportunity to access new premium content.

They can also register and manage virtual goods through the BlackBerry App World Vendor Portal, and a reporting feature will be able to track purchases and payments for their apps and in-app features.

While its highly unlikely RIM's mobile app store will ever match Apple's App Store or Android Market in sheer mobile app volume, it still has a great opportunity to drive development for RIM's flagging smartphone and nascent tablet devices and gives developers yet another venue for their projects.

In December, IDC issued a report forecasting a seven-fold increase in mobile application downloads in the next five years-- good for more than $35 billion in sales.

"Mobile app developers will 'appify' just about every interaction you can think of in your physical and digital worlds," IDC analyst Scott Ellison wrote in the report. "The extension of mobile apps to every aspect of our personal and business lives will be one of the hallmarks of the new decade with enormous opportunities for virtually every business sector."

This year, IDC projects more than 10.9 billion mobile applications will be downloaded around the world. That figure is expected to rocket up to almost 77 billion apps by the end of 2014.

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

TAGS:

developers, smartphones, mobile applications, RIM, App World 2.1

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