The iPhone fanatics are already hard at work trying to dismiss and belittle it, but BlackBerry's new application store has some real potential. But before we condemn RIM for "copying" Apple, let's be realistic here. An application store for smartphone applications is just a good idea, and there is no reason why Apple should have the only one.
The pricing is different, which is causing some initial concern, since there will be no 99 cent apps on the BlackBerry App World. Instead, there are several pricing tiers, starting at $2.99. And yes, prices are a bit higher, but it's likely that the apps available will be of a whole different character. BlackBerry apps available on the site will be more business- and commerce-focused, rather than frivolous and fun, which is a big theme of many of the iPhone apps. Mind you, I like frivolous and fun, but would definitely pay a couple more dollars for an app that could actually help my business.
The multiple tiers, and ability to charge higher prices will also mean developers can make more money--and this is likely to attract more serious developers to the BlackBerry, which ultimately will work to its advantage. The $200 application fee for submitting an app will also keep away the less serious developers.
RIM is not the only one going into this space though. Smartphones are coming to dominate the market, and Nokia is reportedly working on a similar online store for mobile apps, as is Microsoft. It's not going to stop there. Smartphones will be as common as my fifteen-dollar Motorola cell phone in a few years, and smartphone app stores of all varieties will become as common as all those Nigerian princes who want to give me ten million dollars.