RIM (s RIMM) just launched its BlackBerry App World (BAW), a competitor to iTunes App Store. I download the App World app over my WiFi network and installed it on my my T-Mobile Curve 8900. The download and installation process was painless and relatively smooth — in a Blackberry sort of a way. When I open the BAW application, it made me agree to terms of service which frankly were so long that I didn’t bother to read them, but I agreed anyway. After that it was smooth sailing. Despite lacking the touchscreen goodness of Apple’s iPhone, BAW is a competent and useful answer to the iTunes App Store.
The BAW store opened up to a $4.99 New York Times Crossword Puzzle app, but since I am not good with crosswords, I went straight to the stuff I really wanted: Shazam, Facebook, Bloomberg (pretty awesome app), Slacker, Pandora and a few other apps that I have gotten accustomed to on the iPhone/iPod Touch. I am missing Evernote, Remember The Milk and Last.fm.
In short, there are couple of hundred apps — some of them like Facebook and instant messaging apps that were already on the market — re-packaged into the BAW, and finally available in one place. The software apps are easy to download. You can quickly navigate through the store using the track ball. A slight application of pressure on the app you want and the download starts. Over WiFi, the process was pretty darn painless. The BAW search functionality is comparable with the search in Google’s Android app store and Apple’s iTunes store.
BAW takes into account BlackBerry’s limitations and arranges apps in the most intuitive fashion: all apps, top downloads, search and My World, which essentially lists the apps downloaded by you. You can click on the menu and add your reviews and ratings on various apps. The QWERTY keyboard makes writing the reviews easy.
My Bottomline: The store is pretty much what you would expect in a BlackBerry. And while it is not as slick and sexy as Apple’s App Store, the BlackBerry App World is functional and practical — sort of like actress Vivian Vance, who plays Ethel Mertz, Lucille Ball’s side kick in the hit series “I Love Lucy.”