Research in Motion launched its BlackBerry application store---dubbed App World---and the pricing model will immediately draw comparison's to Apple's App Store set-up. That comparison, however, only goes so far.
For starters, RIM's App World pricing model has raised a bit of a ruckus since it veers a bit from Apple's scheme (Techmeme). But a business audience isn't going to sweat a $2.99 application compared to a 99 cent minimum priced 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---including one labeled "free"---that RIM could have said "charge what you want."
But the biggest takeaway from the App World pricing model is that higher prices and multiple tiers mean more money for developers (see FAQ). RIM needs more developers on its bandwagon since 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.
Sure RIM does offer free apps, but developers aren't likely to offer them. Given developers pay an upfront 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 RIM's App World work?
My hunch is that RIM's App World will do well, but isn't going to a success as measured by Apple's store. RIM's store is likely to be more BlackBerry-ish---the applications will be more business focused, tool oriented and won't feature hot games.
RIM also has an app 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, a game on the Storm will be different than the Bold and Curve. How will RIM navigate that conundrum? As a developer those models mean more complications.
Other takeaways from the RIM 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.