BlackBerry App World mandates $2.99 minimum price

Research In Motion is finally taking the wraps off its BlackBerry application storefront, which it will brand as BlackBerry App World. (The device maker previously announced the portal would operate under the BlackBerry Application Center aegis.) According to the BlackBerry App World developer FAQ posted here, the download service is tied to devices running the BlackBerry OS version 4.2 or higher--applicable devices must also feature a trackball or SurePress touchscreen (like the BlackBerry Storm). RIM will accept any applications that can be packaged as a cod file using the BlackBerry Java Development Environment, BlackBerry JDE Plug-in for Eclipse and BlackBerry JDE component pack--developers may also promote and distribute web-based content services provided they offer a web icon application to be distributed through the store. Themes cannot be distributed via the first release of BlackBerry App World. Categories can be selected during the application submission process--developers may choose one category that applies to an app. During the testing and suitability process, RIM will review the category selection--application categories are subject to change, although the handset maker has not yet confirmed exactly what those categories are.

So far, much of the interest generated in BlackBerry App World focuses on the store's pricing and billing structure: While the service will offer both free and premium applications, developers must charge a minimum of $2.99 for paid apps. Apple's App Store enables contributors to price their iPhone and iPod touch apps for as little as 99 cents, but the policy has come under fire from some programmers for effectively discouraging development of more sophisticated and higher-priced downloads--of course, the new BlackBerry App World pricing restriction potentially discourages the creation of the cheaper, simpler applications and utilities that have proven so popular among the iPhone user demographic. The initial release of BlackBerry App World supports one-time billing at time of purchase and free applications--at launch, consumers must use a PayPal account to purchase applications from the store.

In addition, Research In Motion will expressly forbid downloading or running apps from the BlackBerry device's microSD card slot. Electronista notes that such a restriction ostensibly cripples piracy but also limits the quantity and size of apps--no BlackBerry device offers more internal storage than the Bold, which boasts 1GB of flash memory. The rule also restricts the ability to transfer apps to multiple devices.

BlackBerry App World initially will be available in the U.S., Canada and the U.K., and while it will support only English at launch, RIM will add French, Italian, German and Spanish language support as it expands into new international markets. Developers from across the globe can now submit applications for BlackBerry App World--the store is only off-limits to programmers from China, Cuba, North Korea, Iran, Belarus, Myanmar/Burma, Sudan and Syria. RIM will charge a $200 administration fee to complete registration and submit applications, and will refund the money if the app is rejected--this initial fee will allow for 10 application submissions.

For more on BlackBerry App World:
- read this Electronista article