RIM retools BlackBerry App World--new devices coming?

Research In Motion is poised to revamp its BlackBerry App World storefront, adding support for operator billing as well as a host of related upgrades. RIM unveiled BlackBerry App World 2.0 during a New York City press event last week--while at present the store supports only PayPal-based billing options, CIO reports that the refurbished marketplace will introduce carrier billing as well as credit card options. BlackBerry App World 2.0 also updates the My World section, incorporating separate sections for users' archived and pending downloads, along with a Newest Apps category spotlighting the latest additions to the catalog. Also new: BlackBerry ID, which links to the user's email address to enable consumers to switch between devices or carriers without losing their applications and preferences; a smoother UI based on the forthcoming BlackBerry OS 6.0; and improved search tools. According to App World product manager Alex Kinsella, the new store will go live sometime "this summer."

BlackBerry App World launched in April 2009--as of a year later, RIM said the store offers about 6,000 applications, far behind rivals like Apple's iTunes App Store, which now boasts about 225,000 apps for iPhone and iPod touch devices. In mid-April, RIM senior vice president Jeff McDowell told Bloomberg that the manufacturer is looking to boost BlackBerry App World's inventory as RIM pushes into the China, Indonesia and India markets--a team is already in China to collaborate with developers there in advance of new BlackBerry phones tailored for the massive Chinese subscriber market.

In related news, The Wall Street Journal reports Research In Motion is at work on a series of new devices and software solutions developed to combat Apple's growing lead in the mobile services segment. According to the Journal, RIM is presently trialing a new smartphone based on the forthcoming BlackBerry OS 6.0, announced in April and scheduled to make its public debut in Q3--sources familiar with the device say it boasts a user experience evoking Apple's iPhone, enabling consumers to swipe through screens and expand images with their fingers. The BlackBerry smartphone also features a universal search bar for users to seek out device data as well as look for online content. In addition, RIM is allegedly experimenting with a tablet device to rival Apple's hit iPad--the unit, still in the early stages of development, would connect to wireless networks via BlackBerry phone. A RIM spokesperson said the firm does not comment on rumors or speculation.

For more on BlackBerry App World 2.0:
- read this CIO article

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