CTIA 2009: A Closer Look at BlackBerry App World

I blogged briefly about Research In Motion's (RIM) BlackBerry App World a few days ago at CTIA, when the long-awaited answer to Apple's popular iPhone App Store was announced by RIM co-CEO and president Mike Lazaridis. RIM, Microsoft, Google, Nokia (and others) have all announced that they're planning to build up their own online phone app stores, and RIM appears to be the latest to throw its handsets into the fray.

According to the Lazaridis keynote at CTIA, BlackBerry App World will include "approximately 1,000" personal and business applications within a week of launch, with a steady influx of new applications to arrive in the store over time. The service is available now for BlackBerry smartphone customers in North America and the UK, although the service only works with BlackBerry devices sporting a touch-screen (or trackball) and running BlackBerry device software 4.2 or newer. Users that fit this criteria can download the App World application to their phone over at the www.blackberry.com/appworld website.

App World can be accessed with BlackBerry devices using cellular and Wi-Fi networks, and only relevant applications compatible with a user's specific BlackBerry device will be available for download.

All of those apps will be sorted and organized in more than a dozen app categories, including:

  • Entertainment
  • Games
  • Maps and Navigation
  • Music and Video
  • News and Weather
  • Personal Finance and Banking
  • Personal Health and Wellness
  • Productivity and Utilities
  • Professional and Business
  • Reference and eBooks
  • Social Networking and Sharing
  • Sports and Recreation
  • Travel

A keyword search capability will help users find specific apps, while user reviews and recommendations will also be supported. Lazaridis mentioned several times during his keynote that the App World store would have features aimed at IT administrators to help them manage App World purchases, but no further details on this feature were provided at CTIA.

Lazaridis reinforced the IT management angle in a statement issued prior to his keynote, saying that “BlackBerry App World aggregates a wide variety of personal and business apps in a way that makes it very easy for consumers to discover and download the apps that suit them while preserving the appropriate IT architecture and controls required by our enterprise customers.”

We're following up with RIM now on those enterprise-friendly features that Lazaridis mentions, so we should have more details to share on that aspect of App World in the near future. (Follow my Twitter feed at www.twitter.com/jeffjames3 for more info.)

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