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RIM targets its App World store at high end users


Published: 6 March, 2009


Research in Motion is the latest handset vendor to launch an applications store, joining Nokia, Apple, Samsung and Palm and opening App World, but with a stronger focus on business and premium software.

This is taking paid-for apps from day one, unlike Google's Android Market, which just opened up for commercial downloads. It has a different pricing model from that of the Apple App Store, which reflects its heavier focus on the business market. The minimum price is $2.99 rather than 99 cents (there are also some free apps). This may be designed to place the emphasis on quality rather quantity, and give premium software a better showcase. Apple is considering a 'top shelf' for higher priced apps in its own store, following complaints from publishers that their products are swamped by the 99 cent programs.

RIM App World actually has a somewhat confusing nine tiers of pricing, including 'free'. The paid-for app price points start at $2.99 (€2.75 or £2.59) and rise in increments of one dollar to $9.99 (€9.09 or £8.55). There is also space for premium apps priced above $9.99 - above $19.99 the price points go up in $10 increments, and above $99.99 in $50 stages. RIM's main message is that the higher pricing and complex tiers will generate more money for developers, and so hopefully attract them away from Apple.

Free apps are expected to play a far more minor role in App World than other stores, since there is a $200 upfront fee charged to place a product in the shop (refunded if the software is rejected - RIM, like Apple and Palm, retains the right to police its store, though it has not offered many hints over whether it will ban products merely for security or legality reasons, like Google, or for competitive reasons, like Apple). Free software publishers will be more focused on open source platforms like Android, plus the more consumer focused iPhone.

Although RIM has talked about the importance of games to its initiative, it is likely to succeed mainly in its business heartland. It will have a more complicated task on its hand than Apple, since it will need to manage and support apps on seven handset platforms, and the experience on each one will vary, which also makes the model more complex for programmers. The supported BlackBerries run OS version 4.2.0 or higher - namely the Bold 9000, Storm, Pearl Flip, Pearl Series, Curve 8300 and 8900, and BlackBerry 8800 Series.

Users will also have access to a MyWorld feature, which will house all purchased applications so that they can be re-downloaded for free should the customer get a new device or wipe their existing one. Content can be re-downloaded three times a year only, and cannot be stored or run on an SD card.

The store will initially open in the US, Canada and UK and with only English language apps, but later releases will expand to other European countries and will support French, Italian, German and Spanish. Customers and developers must have a PayPal account and apps can come from any country apart from Belarus, Myanmar, China, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan and Syria.

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