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BlackBerry App Store Launches

Waterloo, Ontario — Research in Motion launched an “App Store” for BlackBerry phones, with an initial 1,000 smartphone applications slated to post this week.

The BlackBerry App World is an on-device store that allows BlackBerry users to download smartphone applications directly to their devices.

The store can be accessed via Wi-Fi and cellular network, and it automatically presents the user with applications specific to his phone model.

Initial apps (both free and paid) are available from brands including Facebook, Bloomberg, Slacker, ClearChannel (iheartradio). Hotel Reservation Service, New York Times, Pandora, and MTV Networks.

Separately, Skype just announced a “lite” version of Skype will be available for Blackberry smartphones as a free download with a beta version to debut in May for the BlackBerry Bold and Curve. Support for other models will follow. Skype enables calls over local air time and a mobile Internet connection, allowing users to save money on International calls. It also lets users stay connected via messaging. (A Skype iPhone App also debuted on the Apple App Store this week.)

The new BlackBerry App World displays a “front page” section with featured titles for that week and it will also offer a “top downloads” area.

The site also includes search capability and user reviews and ratings. App categories range from entertainment and games to productivity and business titles.

Mike Lazaridis, RIM president/co-CEO, said, “BlackBerry App World aggregates a wide variety of personal and business apps in a way that makes it very easy for consumers to discover and download the apps that suit them while preserving the appropriate IT architecture and controls required by our enterprise customers.

BlackBerry App World is available for BlackBerry devices with a trackball or touchscreen running BlackBerry software 4.2 or higher.