RIM Tries Harder on Apps

Research in Motion Ltd. is making its biggest push yet to woo developers, in an attempt to attract more applications—and the consumers who love them–to their BlackBerry smartphones.

RIM is launching a slew of new services and development tools in coming weeks that promise to make it much easier and more profitable to write software for the BlackBerry.

The moves are part of the Waterloo, Ontario-based company’s effort to win back customers opting for more app-friendly iPhones from Apple Inc. or devices that run Google Inc.’s Android operating system.

Customer defections have been slowly eroding BlackBerry’s commanding market share and fueling an investor unease that has pushed RIM shares down around 25 percent so far this year.

RIM’s new tools and services aim to help developers such as Widality. The software firm says that while RIM is very supportive, it is too hard to make money on its call-logging application, which it sells exclusively through BlackBerry’s App World store. Customers can download a free version of Widality’s program, but if they like the tool and want to purchase the premium version, which has added features, they have to first uninstall the free program, download the premium version from a website, reload their data, and pay through a PayPal account—a complicated, time-consuming process that few people make it through.

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