RIM BlackBerry App World Gets (Bare-Bones) Desktop Version

BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion (RIM) today released a brand new "desktop" version of its BlackBerry App World mobile software store, so users can now navigate the company's app catalogue via PC, as well as send interesting applications to their devices for download at a later time. But RIM still has a ways to go if BlackBerry App World's ever to become a truly valuable app store. Here's why.

By
Tue, August 18, 2009

CIO — Research In Motion (RIM) made its first foray in the mobile-app-store space last April, when it officially launched BlackBerry App World at CTIA Wireless 2009. Nearly five months later, the company's still frequently updating and improving its official software channel. The latest enhancement, announced this morning, is the ability to browse App World software via PC.

image of RIM's BlackBerry App World in Desktop Browser
RIM's BlackBerry App World in Desktop Browser

Other recent enhancements within App World v1.1.0.15 include the ability to archive third-party applications to microSD cards and receive software update notifications.

Until today, BlackBerry App World was only accessible via RIM handheld, making it difficult for users to browse and research applications due to the tiny displays found on BlackBerry devices.

App World's now available via notebook and desktop computers, and it's both easy to navigate on a PC and rather good-looking. App World desktop pages have descriptions of apps, pricing, sizes of downloads, screenshots and reviews, as well as all the necessary device and system information for compatible BlackBerrys. And you can browse software by featured items, top downloads, categories or subcategories, in addition to searching for applications by name, "free," "paid," or "new."

Those are all certainly positive things, and the changes are welcome ones--especially when it comes to browsing for new apps. But the version available via PC doesn't offer the same total functionality as the on-device App World. And that's just unfortunate.

For example, you can use the desktop version of App World to browse and select specific software offerings. But you cannot purchase any commercial apps via PC or download any software offerings at all; to buy or download App World apps you still need to send a link to your device and then complete the buying process on your handheld.

That also means that you can't download applications directly to your PC for easy backup or for installation via BlackBerry Desktop Manager.

I recently penned a piece blasting RIM and App World for its lack of critical features and functionality, and I called the company out for not offering a desktop version of App World. However, my main gripe at the time was that you couldn't backup App World software via PC. So while RIM has partially addressed my concern, you still cannot backup App World purchase anywhere except "The Cloud" and your BlackBerry memory card.

Bottom line: The addition of a desktop version to BlackBerry World is certainly a step in the right direction. But it feels incomplete, and RIM still has much work to do before App World can offer comparable download, purchasing and backup options to competitors like Mobihand.

So please, RIM: Keep those updates coming.

AS


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