RIM Gives BlackBerry App World a Major Update

Research in Motion, playing catch-up to Apple's hot App Store market, announced App World 2.0 Wednesday, a major update to its online application store for BlackBerry owners.

The preview came at a private meeting in New York, which was promptly leaked to a variety of blogs. RIM (NASDAQ: RIMM) itself has not made a formal product announcement.

The changes range from redoing the user interface to expanding the means for customers to pay for applications, which had been fairly limited prior to this launch. With the prior version of the store, buyers could only purchase apps via PayPal. Version 2.0 will add the option of having the app purchase appear on the monthly bill from the carrier.

Version 2.0 is also adding a sign-on system dubbed BlackBerry ID that is transferable to other phones, so apps will no longer be tied to one physical phone. Customers can log in to the App World store on a different phone and freely download an app they've already purchased.

To keep administrators and managers happy, enterprises will have the option of setting policies, including restricting all purchases through carrier billing.

RIM has not said when it expects to formally launch the service, however.

Finding apps will also be simpler, thanks to a new search routine that RIM promises will yield better results. The interface is described as similar to the App Store in that it has a Top 25 apps list with Top Free and Top Paid apps. The apps categories are said to remain unchanged.

The My World option, which shows the inventory of a user's installed applications, will now show the status of all of the downloaded applications -- what's currently installed, what's pending, what's on the SD memory card and what has been deleted.

RIM is also adding support for QR barcodes. This is already widely used on Android phones, and the iPhone also has support. It will allow BlackBerry users to scan the QR barcodes and then call up an application that can access information about the product.

RIM has some catching up to do. After one year on the market with a dominant platform, the App World only has 6,500 applications, while the Android market numbers more than 50,000 and App Store has topped 225,000. App World has more than 25 million subscribers, according to a RIM spokesperson.

No indication was given at the NYC event on availability, but it could be timed for release with BlackBerry OS 6.0, which is reportedly due in the third quarter of this year.

WSJ picks up on tablet rumor

The Wall Street Journal has picked up on the earlier rumors of a BlackBerry tablet. As has been previously reported, the Journal described it as a complimentary device to the BlackBerry that is tethered to the phone for wireless access. RIM declined to confirm the rumors to the Journal and told InternetNews.com it would not comment on rumors and speculation.

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


Blackberry, iPhone, RIM, mobile devices, App World