After months of anticipation, RIM has opened up its own mobile application storefront, BlackBerry App World. Users in the U.S., U.K. and Canada will have immediate access to the store and almost a 1,000 applications from partners like Bloomberg and the New York Times to MTV and popular music-streaming service Pandora.
The service, officially unveiled at the CTIA Wireless 2009 trade show today, promises a mix of business, personal, gaming and entertainment options for existing customers, who can download applications over both cellular and Wi-Fi networks.
"The BlackBerry platform provides a truly unparalleled mobile experience for millions of people, and we are thrilled today to enhance that experience with a new app store that helps connect consumers with developers and carriers," said Mike Lazaridis, president and co-CEO of RIM, in a statement. "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."
RIM is bringing BlackBerry's app capabilities up to speed as more and more handset manufacturers follow Apple's iPhone lead: That device, while not by any means the first to have downloadable applications, made their download easy and integrated, raising the bar for competitors.
Already, Google's Android has come with a store of its own at launch, while Microsoft has promised that its Windows Mobile offering will have one by the fourth quarter.
The platforms are unlikely to drive much revenue RIM's way -- developers keep the lion's share of each application's cost -- but such ease of use in downloading applications is seen as critical to expanding a handset's functionality and keeping sales high, particularly as consumers are expected to rein in handset spending during the recession.
For more information on the announcement, see RIM's official announcement.