Research in Motion (s rimm) has just opened the figurative doors on the newest version of the BlackBerry App World. This new app store has been in beta for a while, and it brings the RIM online market more in line with the competition. Developers can now offer cheaper apps, with the lowest tier now $0.99 and $1.99. The lowest app price previously allowed was $2.99. Key design changes have been implemented to make it easier for BlackBerry owners to find desired apps.
The new store will have apps organized into categories that are easier to navigate on the phone, either by scrolling with the famous BlackBerry trackballs or by swiping on touch phones. Customers will find apps through the standard search, and by spinning through several top app categories (free, paid and newest apps). Once that perfect app is found, payment options now include credit card and carrier billing (where allowed).
The App World will now implement QR barcode scanning to locate apps. This scanning has been available in the Android (s goog) Market from the beginning, and is a popular shopping method for customers. Codes can be scanned with the phone’s camera no matter the source (printed, on-screen, etc.), which takes the customer directly to the pertinent app in the App World.
RIM is also integrating customer’s BlackBerry ID with the App World, tying purchases to the user identity. This will make it possible to transfer purchased apps to a new BlackBerry without the need to purchase them again.
This updated app store is just in time for the launch of the BlackBerry Torch and OS 6, which looked pretty good in Kevin’s recent review. Smartphone owners have come to expect the availability of good apps, so the app ecosystem will play a role in the growth of the new OS; the easier it is for customers to shop, the better for RIM. BlackBerry owners should start getting notifications about the new App World in the next few hours, according to RIM.
The BlackBerry App World is now comparable to the iTunes (s aapl) App Store with the app categories, and better than the Android Market which isn’t well-organized. The lower priced apps will bring app pricing for the BlackBerry more in line with both the Apple and Android offerings.
Related research on GigaOM Pro (sub. req’d): To Win In the Mobile Market, Focus On Consumers