Not to be confused with the BlackBerry Application Center, a carrier-managed, on-device “app store” that’s already available to BlackBerry Storm owners, the upcoming App Storefront will be populated and maintained by RIM itself. And it will be available to BlackBerry users based on their current devices and operating systems, instead of wireless carriers. In fact, reports suggest that any and all BlackBerry users running RIM’s handheld OS v4.2.1 or higher will have access to the BlackBerry Application Storefront.
Both business-oriented and consumer-focused applications will be accepted for review
Interested parties must create a vendor account and submit an associated application to RIM for approval before submitting apps
Apps must support wireless, or over-the-air (OTA), downloads to users’ BlackBerry devices
Software must be functional without any specific customization or integration services on the part of users
A verified PayPal account will be required for developers and users who want to take advantage of the BlackBerry Application Storefront (PayPal is required for both consumer purchases and payments back to vendors)
This is certainly exciting news for mobile application developers and BlackBerry owners alike—but there’s one hitch. I can’t help but wonder how long it will take BlackBerry users to begin expressing frustration at the minimal amount of application storage space most current RIM devices offer. Though modern BlackBerry smartphones have as much as 1GB of built-in, or “on-board,” memory and support media cards up to 32GB, the storage space that’s specifically allotted for apps is much less.
In other words, even though RIM built in plenty of room for apps within most BlackBerry devices, it’s not letting you utilize it—at least for storing third-party software.
In fact, RIM’s new Curve 8900, which offers the most “application memory,” or app-specific storage, of any current BlackBerry handheld, offers just 256MB of space for apps. And other high-end RIM devices like the Bold and Storm provide even less application memory with just 128MB. That’s very little storage space, to put it mildly, and that fact is going to become painfully apparent for many BlackBerry users as soon as the new App Storefront opens its virtual doors.
Other comparable smartphones, such as the Apple iPhone 3G, don’t saddle users with the same restrictions; iPhone owners can store whatever they please, in whatever amount, on their devices. And that fact could end up hurting RIM where it counts when all the cards are on the table.
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.