RIM's BlackBerry App World is expected to be officially announced on April 1 at this years CTIA Wireless show in Las Vegas. RIM's offering is not only an effort to keep BlackBerry users in the fold by providing a one-stop application shop, but it's also a way for RIM to extend a hand to third-party developers. As with the iPhone App Store, the success of BAW will depend heavily on the happiness, or at least motivation, of developers.
Apple's App Store had 15,000 apps available as of January. In order to compete with those numbers, BlackBerry App World needs to attract developers who will produce a sizeable amount of applications -- and quality ones at that. The paid apps in the BAW start at $2.99, and many commentors are hoping that a higher price point will be a barrier to nonsense apps (see: Virtual Zippo, iFart). A potential snag here is that many BlackBerries users are provided with handsets by their employers who prohibit their employees from adding apps. However, if the applications are generally focused on productivity and there is enough demand, it's possible that many employers will relent.
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Google, for example, announced its Google Voice Search app for BlackBerry on the same day. While the app was already available for iPhone and G1 users, it is now also available as a free download for RIM fans. The app allows you to conduct Google searches using the sound of your voice; users simply have to hold down the Talk button and speak into the phone. The killer feature here is the support for Google's MyLocations, which returns search results based on where you are. U.K. users will appreciate the support for English accents, but only users who have BlackBerry OS 4.2 or higher will be able to use and abuse the Voice Search.
There are more BlackBerrys than iPhones, so you can expect quite a few developers will start uploading apps to BAW post haste. On the other hand, the BlackBeryy is hard to develop for, and variations among models limit what you can do, so I'd be surprised if we see anything like the flood of apps that the App Store has enjoyed.