RIM BlackBerry App World to Launch at CTIA with Custom TV Service?
By Al Sacco
Managing Editor, CIO
Research In Motion (RIM)’s much anticipated BlackBerry App World mobile software store will launch on April 1 at the CTIA Wireless 2009 event in Las Vegas, according to reports. And that’s not all: RIM may also unveil a shiny new BlackBerry-specific mobile TV service to boot. How ‘bout them apples, iPhone?
The BlackBerry App World launch rumor comes from BusinessWeek.com, which says RIM Co-CEO Mike Lazaridis is expected to announce BlackBerry App World during his CTIA keynote address on April 1. RIM started accepting submissions from BlackBerry developers back in December 2008, and it originally planned on opening App World’s virtual doors this month. So an April 1 launch is just about right on the company’s previously stated schedule and shouldn’t come as much of a surprise.
However, the possibility of a BlackBerry TV service is both new and exciting. It makes perfect sense, as simple TV/movie content delivery is a clear advantage Apple and its iTunes Store currently have over RIM and other handset makers. The BlackBerry TV rumor originated on NewTeeVee.com, and the blog provides the following additional details:
It will be an unlimited monthly subscription service for a fee
Once a user orders a program, the content will be downloaded in the background over Wi-Fi
Multiple broadcast and cable networks have licensed content for the service
If the report pans out, RIM just may give the iTunes Store a run for its dollars. As described, it would provide a couple of advantages over the current iTunes content delivery system: 1) Such a service would allow you to bypass your PC and download video content directly to a BlackBerry over Wi-Fi, and 2) a monthly subscription model would enable you to view more content for less, i.e., get more bang for your buck, since monthly content availability would be unlimited—though pricing information is unavailable. iPhone owners must plug their devices into a PC to transfer video content. And most standard definition TV shows on iTunes costs $1.99 an episode, which can add up rapidly.
A few technical unknowns still remain, however. One question that jumps immediately to mind is how BlackBerry Storm owners, who lack Wi-Fi in their devices, will take advantage of the service. Considering the BlackBerry Storm has the largest display of any BlackBerry, which makes it best suited for video viewing, it seems unlikely that RIM would leave the Storm off the list of support devices on launch day.
One simple solution is that RIM will also offer a desktop-based App World purchasing option, so users without Wi-Fi can still join in the fun. This might not be ideal for Storm owners, as it could severely hinder the service’s value to business travelers and other folks on the go. But it’s better than nothing, I guess.
I’m also curious about App World pricing and payment options. Currently, RIM’s limiting developer options for pricing their applications; developers can give their apps away or sell them via a variety of pricing tiers starting at $2.99. But they can’t sell applications for $0.99 or $1.99, which coincidentally are the two most popular pricing options on Apple’s iTunes App Store—except, of course, for the no-cost option.
RIM already made it clear that developers who wish to submit applications for inclusion in BlackBerry App World need to employ a PayPal account. So it’s logical to assume that BlackBerry users who want to purchase apps will also have to use PayPal. That’s not ideal for many of us who
loathe the idea of associating with the site. (It’s probably the single most frequently targeted site for phishing attempts and other security/privacy scams.) But that may just be the price you have to pay if you want in to BlackBerry App World.
Thankfully, CTIA starts next Wednesday, so we won’t have to wait long to see how much of the speculation is truth. I’ll be at Lazaridis’s keynote with bells on, and I’ll post all the juicy details right here on the Mobile WorkHorse just as soon as they’re available.
Al Sacco was a journalist, blogger and editor who covers the fast-paced mobile beat for CIO.com and IDG Enterprise, with a focus on wearable tech, smartphones and tablet PCs. Al managed CIO.com writers and contributors, covered news, and shared insightful expert analysis of key industry happenings. He also wrote a wide variety of tutorials and how-tos to help readers get the most out of their gadgets, and regularly offered up recommendations on software for a number of mobile platforms. Al resides in Boston and is a passionate reader, traveler, beer lover, film buff and Red Sox fan.