RIM Unveils New App World For BlackBerry

RIM Unveils New App World For BlackBerry

By Roger Cheng


Complete posting from The Wall Street Journal online.

LAS VEGAS (Dow Jones)--Research in Motion Ltd. (RIMM) launched its App World for BlackBerry smartphones Wednesday as it looks to tap a market for mobile programs made lucrative by Apple Inc. (AAPL) and the iPhone.

RIM is getting into an increasingly crowded room filled with high-profile companies looking to turn a profit off mobile storefronts. It's part of a larger push by the Canadian company to appeal to more consumers - media programs figure prominently at launch. If successful, the company could open the door to a new revenue stream.

App World will feature a front-page carousel that will allow users to browse a certain number of featured applications, which will vary from week to week. It also will include a keyword search capability and allow users to review and recommend applications to other users.

Research in Motion said it expects about 1,000 applications to be posted by partners on BlackBerry App World this week, including applications from CC Media Holdings Inc.'s (CCMO) Clear Channel, Gameloft SA (GFT.FR), Viacom Inc.'s (VIAB) MTV Networks, the New York Times Co. (NYT) and Salesforce.com Inc. (CRM).

The platform will support both free and purchased applications.

Blackberry users can download the storefront from RIM's Web site. Among the popular applications available are business to business programs for customer management, social-networking programs such as MySpace and Facebook, and instant messaging programs. The company hopes to merge the features from these programs with the "push" and "always on" reputation Blackberry has earned with the corporate work force.

MySpace is owned by News Corp. (NWSA), which also owns Dow Jones & Co., the publisher of this newswire.

In order to buy paid applications, a Blackberry subscriber needs to set up an account with PayPal, which will handle the financial transaction. Co-Chief Executive Jim Balsillie said RIM is working with carriers to make it possible for users to pay for the apps through their monthly cellphone bill.

"We are doing integrated carrier billing strategies, so you'll see them," Balsillie said in an interview. "Different carriers have different billing strategies, so it's quite frankly a bunch of work."

He added that carrier involvement and "harmony" has been a priority for RIM.
Media figure prominently in App World, and music in particular was a major part of RIM President and co-CEO Mike Lazaridis' keynote address earlier Wednesday. He talked about Shazam, Slacker, Pandora and Napster, as well as support for Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) media and Apple's iTunes. Live streaming television for Blackberrys is another program that will be available for the launch.

"It's a long-term revenue thing, but the most important thing is to catalyze the developer community and developer environment," said Balsillie, adding that it will help drive sales of Blackberrys.

Tuesday, Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) unveiled its Windows Marketplace for Mobile, its version of an application storefront.

The application stores will be featured at the CTIA Wireless industry trade show, which kicks off later Wednesday in Las Vegas.

Shares of Research in Motion traded recently at $45.43, up $2.33, or 5.4%.
-By Roger Cheng, Dow Jones Newswires; 201-938-2020; roger.cheng@dowjones.com
(Sara Silver and Kerry Grace contributed to this story.)