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Thu, Apr 02, 2009 - Page 10 News List

RIM launches own application store

AP , LAS VEGAS

Research in Motion Ltd (RIM), the maker of BlackBerry phones, is set to launch its one-stop shop for add-on applications yesterday.

While third-party programs have long been available for BlackBerrys from many sources, the Waterloo, Ontario-based company is now following in Apple Inc’s footstep by creating and operating a central store. Every other major company in the “smart” phone industry is doing the same.

BlackBerry App World will be available for download from RIM’s Web site starting at midday, said BlackBerry co-chief executive Jim Balsillie.

A thousand applications will be available at launch.

Unlike Apple’s App Store, BlackBerry App World will share revenue with cellphone carriers and allow them to profile themselves by setting up their own stores-within-the-store, Balsillie said. It will also be possible for customers to charge application purchases to their cellphone bill, if their carrier chooses to enable that function.

Microsoft Corp on Tuesday announced that carrier stores and billing will be part of its Windows Marketplace for Mobile, an applications store that will launch with new phones toward the end of the year.

Nokia Corp, the world’s largest maker of cellphones, has several application stores but said earlier this year that it would combine them into one. Google Inc runs an Android Marketplace of programs for the T-Mobile G1 phone, which will be joined by other phones running Google’s Android software this year.

The launch of App World coincides with a speech by RIM’s other co-CEO, Mike Lazaridis, at a cellphone trade show that starts in Las Vegas yesterday. He plans to profile the BlackBerry as a music-playing device, an important capability now that RIM is taking it from a business-oriented e-mail device to a mainstream smart phone competing with the iPhone.

But Balsillie said RIM has no plans to launch a music store of its own, like Apple and Nokia have.

“The key thing is to play the enabling card to all the music stores that are out there,” Balsillie said. “It would make as much sense for me to create my music store as it would be me to create my own e-mail application to compete with Yahoo and Gmail,” he said.

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