BlackBerry users, look alive: BlackBerry maker Research In Motion has ladled out a verbal foretaste of the next generation of App World, its storefront for downloading and buying software applications, the day before RIM's Wireless Enterprise Symposium (WES) BlackBerry conference officially kicks off.
RIM Co-CEO Jim Balsillie confirmed in a talk to investors and the press that BlackBerry's App World application, which users must currently download in order to access, will soon come preloaded on the home screen of all BlackBerry models shipping with version 5.0 of the operating system or higher.
The second version of the app will also be Wi-Fi capable--right now it only downloads over data networks--and the online catalog will soon be able to mirror on the desktop the on-phone app's capability to buy premium apps.
Taking a cue from Apple, RIM has announced that App World will adopt microtransactions, the breed of in-app payments that Apple employed months ago to let developers sell users additional and optional features and services on top of the app's base price. Examples include unlocking more levels in a game and purchasing premium video content.
We were relieved to hear that RIM is closer to offering carrier and credit card billing in addition to charging for apps through PayPal, for which you must also register in order to download a single App Store app. We ranted and railed about being locked into PayPal's ecosystem when App World first launched a year ago in April 2009, and breathed our first sigh of relief when RIM announced plans to broaden its payment plan last November.
In addition to enabling greater purchasing freedom for its application-hungry consumers, App World 2.0 will pack in more account management and search improvements, fit a greater number of enterprise apps in the catalog, and guarantee free and paid catalogs for the app in all countries App World currently supports.
Most of these new features will roll out later this year, with the notable exception of RIM's plan to support monthly recurring charges in 2011.