RIM announces new ways to market BlackBerry software
Research in Motion (RIM), the maker of the BlackBerry, has announced two new distribution channels for BlackBerry applications: a catalogue program running on the device and an online store. Mike Lazaridis, the founder, joint CEO and President of RIM made the announcement in his opening presentation at the BlackBerry Developer Conference.
An Application Center from which applications can be installed remotely or from the PC runs directly on the BlackBerry Storm – or more correctly, under its device software 4.7. This is a further development of the current Virtual Preload, which lets mobile phone suppliers provide application icons as placeholders which offer to install the software the first time they are selected.
This gives network operators an opportunity to offer their customers further services, usually subject to payment, after selling them the device. Now, instead of the Home screen being plastered with icons, the application catalogue hides behind the Application Center icon. The means RIM is inviting the mobile phone providers on board, where they can control what they are offering their customers.
Even though a new marketing strategy is opening up here for application developers, the latter certainly don't want to be at the mercy of the carriers. So, besides this partnership marketing, RIM will probably open up an Application Store of its own in March 2009, to be open to all BlackBerry developers. As in the iTunes Store marketing model, developers can decide their own selling prices, but Blackberry app vendors keep 80% of the income – 10% more than Apple passes on. In order to reach the largest possible potential client base, RIM will be working with PayPal. RIM faces more of a challenge than Apple here, as Apple already has millions of customers who buy music titles from it.
The new marketing channels are mainly intended to promote the sale of lifestyle applications: these can only be established when the platform is opened up to what are being called "prosumers", i.e. professional-type consumers. For the rather more sober business of dealing with companies, on the other hand, there will be more normal business-style processes and procedures for buying applications for Blackberry devices. Few enterprise clients will want to pay by credit card or Paypal. Companies that operate a BlackBerry Enterprise Server will naturally keep control over their users, with policies that specify whether users may install applications – and which ones.