Research In Motion is quickly working to improve the app-shopping experience on BlackBerry devices, but in updates being sent out to consumers today, there are some pros and cons for developers.
First, the good: RIM (NSDQ: RIMM) will slowly be adding credit card billing and carrier billing over the next few months, starting with AT&T (NYSE: T). It’s also lowering the minimum price to 99 cents and $1.99 per app from a previously self-imposed limit of a much higher $2.99. Carrier billing is considered the best way to sell applications and other mobile content to wireless subscribers because it takes the least amount of work — users don’t have to enter credit card numbers, or even a user name and password to a PayPal account.
Now, the bad: RIM is also cutting back the amount of revenues it is sharing with developers from 80 percent to 70 percent, and now keeping 30 percent for themselves. It’s important to note, however, that RIM was essentially the only company with such a generous split. Others like Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) and Android had been using the 70/30 rule from the start.
With credit card and carrier billing now coming to the store, it might be worth a larger percentage of developers’ profits since application downloads have been slow to date. Up until now, BlackBerry users had to use PayPal to pay for their apps. A RIM spokeswoman said that AT&T will be the first carrier to support carrier billing and others will follow suit in the coming months, but it will be up to the carriers to announce when. Right now, BlackBerry App World is available in 65 countries. Presumably, carrier billing could roll out fairly quickly. According to our sources, RIM has partnered with mobile-payment provider, *Bango*, which has access 40 carrier networks worldwide, including all the top-tier carriers in North America. What’s nice is the new revenue-share would include any payments to Bango (AIM: BGO), so there won’t be additional carrier fees.
The BlackBerry App World update will also improve usability. Updates include:
– The store will have new sections where users can easily see the Top 25 Free Apps, Top 25 Paid Apps and Top 25 Themes, as well as the Newest Apps and Recently Updated Apps.
– QR barcode scanning will be supported, allowing a QR code associated with an application from anywhere — the web, print ads, brochures — to link to its corresponding download page.
– Users will have BlackBerry IDs that enable credit card payments and allow customers to seamlessly transfer their personal library of free and purchased apps when they switch to a new BlackBerry smartphone.