RIM's BlackBerry Application Storefront is now officially open for developer submissions, ahead of Microsoft's efforts and lagging far behind Apple's store—now running to 15,000 apps and 500,000,000 downloads. But that didn't stop RIM CEO Jim Balsillie from blathering on about the revolutionary qualities of the RIM app store, using language that even the worst PR person would avoid.
The Application Storefront, accepting apps now for sale later, appears to be closer to Apple's walled garden than Android's free-for-all application front, perhaps with RIM seeking to minimize "dangerous" or damaging apps for their business-centric devices by vetting which apps make it to the public.
Speaking at Midem 2009 (the music biz's professional tradeshow, just ending in France) Balsillie's keynote speech revealed that he expected "dozens of music apps" to end up in the store. This is part of what was referred to as "Music 2.0," a weaselly little appellation that confuses right from the get-go. Does it mean music that plays you, rather than you playing it? Not according to Jim—it means music is "undergoing a radical transformation and it creates a remarkable new opportunity for content owners to monetize their content ... The content has reasserted itself." Ah, so basically its the record labels getting their paws back on the money coming from digital downloads.
"This isn't just a survival strategy [for the record companies]- this is a remarkable revenue enhancement strategy," he went on, in blank defiance of widely-regarded facts. The music industry was caught napping by the digital revolution, and failed to act swiftly to catch up—instead resorting to PR-damaging law suits to punish piracy. And if RIM's store is selling music, it's just offering another channel for the same music you can download elsewhere in the same format. Nothing revolutionary there.
With the BlackBerry primarily seen as an on-the-go email device—even by its prominent Presidential supporter—it'll be interesting to see how those "dozens of music apps" in the App Store make a dent in the portable music market. The Storefront's a fantastic extra for BlackBerry owners, sure, since when it goes live in March it'll be a great one-stop-shop for enhancing your handheld with new apps... but Music 2.0? Don't think so.