Symbian mobile users have no centralized marketplace to shop for applications. While this is to the detriment of the users, the real sufferers are really the developers. Unless they are big names in the mobile industry, most technologically savvy folk won’t risk downloading and installing an application from an unknown publisher. This has been alleviated to some extent with Symbian Signing, but not entirely. (However this situation may change with the advent of Ovi.)
Apple then created a concept when they created the iPhone App Store; it is a place for developers to post their creations for free. The applications are scanned by the company, and if they pass the quality controls as well as the safeguards, they have instant exposure. The developers can choose to distribute the mobile applications for free, or charge the users for them. The platform worked very well.
So well that other manufacturers are jumping on the band wagon. Google launched Android Market, and now BlackBerry has announced one of their own too, called the App World.
Research in Motion has decided to rechristen their online marketplace App World, when it was formerly known as App Centre. The store will offer software applications ranging from games to social networking applications, with personal productivity applications as well. However, the younger crowd will not be happy to know that there will be no customization gimmicks, like wallpapers or themes.
Existing users of the BlackBerry may find an upgrade to their mobile handsets necessary, as the App World can be accessed only with the operating system version 4.2 or later. This can be done by the user themselves or by a retailer. After that, the user needs to download an application to access the store. All models of BlackBerry that are launched in future will carry this application as part of the standard package.
These applications cannot be transferred to a micro-SD card, however should the user wish to upgrade their handset, the applications can be able to transferred to another handset. However, this is subject to the specific developer’s terms and conditions.
Payment methods are different with the App World, as each developer will be required to sign up with a PayPal account, instead of the standard credit card transactions. The applications will be more expensive than their App Store counterparts, which is not in their favour. There are of course the free applications, completely at the developers’ discretion, but their paid applications have a minimum price tag of USD$ 2.99. The price brackets are increase in increments of USD$ 10, reaching right up to USD$ 999. Perhaps there are people who will purchase applications worth three figures from the online store, but it is certain that those people are few and far between. The price bracket may just be included for completeness, or RIM is hoping to attract all kinds of developers to their store.
These applications will also be restricted, and will only be available to the residents of UK, US and Canada, leaving all other BlackBerry users across the globe very much out in the cold.