Now that the preliminary site for RIM’s upcoming application store “BlackBerry App World” is up, we’ve got a lot on our minds and we’re sure you do as well. Our first dose of shock comes from the pricing structure, which is absolutely horrible. To quickly rehash the image above, you’re looking at a nine-tiered structure that starts at $0, jumps to $2.99 on Tier Two and then adds $1 on each subsequent tier until tier nine is reached with prices capped at $9.99. Now, many people have expressed a great deal of sticker shock that paid apps are to start at $2.99 and we can’t help but agree that forcing such an expensive price floor is a practice that can only harm App World and interest in BlackBerry apps in general. With that said, we do understand that there are many forces at play that help dictate the price. Supply and demand obviously plays a role in but with roughly 21 million current ‘Berry users — many of them corporate/government/etc and restricted from downloading any applications — there simply isn’t that high of a demand as there is for Apple’s App Store or even Nokia’s upcoming Ovi store. Perhaps the supply side of things is affecting the price more so than demand. It is worth nothing that while RIM has been pushing its gear way further into the consumer market and more applications have come out (some pretty novel ones, we might add), the BlackBerry platform is not one that is easy to develop for.
RIM is a very paranoid company and does not give developers too much access to the API out of fear that the security of the device, OS or servers will be compromised. This means that to create a good application, a lot of skill, time and money is required — costs that developers are more than willing to pass on to the end-user. In addition to this, to submit an application to App World costs $200, something we strongly feel should be done away with as it not only punishes those who are about to bring a great deal of money to RIM from all of their hard work, it will also serve to discourage hundreds of developers who have the skills but not the money to pay an exorbitant fee. Removing or drastically reducing this fee and having RIM bear the initial costs of hosting an app will certainly add downward pressure on prices.
RIM, buddy ‘ole pal, you need to look long and hard at a free market pricing system in which market conditions push prices to equilibrium. It can only serve to benefit us all.