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How will BlackBerry App World work?

Research In Motion's application store has a different pricing model than Apple's App Store. Higher prices mean more for developers. But an up-front fee will mean fewer free, hot apps.

This was originally posted at ZDNet's Between the Lines.

Research In Motion launched its application store--dubbed BlackBerry App World--and the pricing model will immediately draw comparisons to Apple's App Store setup. That comparison, however, only goes so far.

For starters, App World's pricing model has raised a bit of a ruckus because it veers a bit from Apple's scheme. But a business audience isn't going to sweat a $2.99 application compared with a 99 cent minimum-price app. And RIM's audience is likely to even pay higher prices, if the App World can actually deliver software with a real business use. And there are so many tiers to the App World model that RIM could have said "charge what you want."

But the biggest takeaway from the App World pricing model is that higher prices mean more for developers (see FAQ). RIM needs more developers on its bandwagon because the iPhone is the shiny object in the mobile world.

Simply put, money talks, and RIM plans to use it. Matthew Miller notes that RIM's pricing model shouldn't be that big of a deal.

Pricing for the BlackBerry App World Research In Motion

Sure, RIM does offer free apps, but developers aren't likely to offer them. Given that developers pay an up-front fee, why would you pay RIM to distribute a free app? RIM's message with App World appears to be: frivolous and fun apps need not apply.

Will App World work?

My hunch is that App World will do well but won't be as successful as Apple's store. RIM's store is likely to be more BlackBerry-ish--the applications will be more business-focused and tool-oriented; they won't feature hot games.

RIM also has an application management issue on its hands. Apple's App Store has to support just the iPhone and iPod Touch. RIM's applications will work on these models:

  • BlackBerry Bold 9000 smartphone
  • BlackBerry Storm smartphone
  • BlackBerry Pearl Flip Series
  • BlackBerry Curve 8300 Series
  • Black Berry Curve 8900 smartphone
  • BlackBerry 8800 Series
  • BlackBerry Pearl Series

The experience on all of those models will vary. For instance, the way a game feels on the Storm will be different than on the Bold and Curve. How will RIM navigate that conundrum? As a developer, those models mean more complications.

Other takeaways from the App World effort:

  • A PayPal account is required with App World for customers and developers;
  • Developers from around the world can contribute except for those from Belarus, Myanmar/Burma, China, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, and Syria.
  • To submit an application, there's a $200 fee, which will be refunded if the software is rejected.