DUBAI // BlackBerry App World, the service that enables users of the popular smartphone to download applications to their handsets, was finally launched officially in the UAE yesterday.
Research in Motion (RIM), the Canadian manufacturer of the phones, unveiled the store in the US in April 2009. The company ran a beta version in the UAE for testing purposes a few weeks ago.
App World is already available in other Middle East countries including Kuwait, Qatar, Jordan, Bahrain and Lebanon, and its appearance in the UAE is expected to give a boost to the region's application developers.
Mohammed al Ghanim, director general of the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority, said the Government would work to support developers as they created new applications.
"With the launch of App World, we are eager to work with BlackBerry developers to provide the appropriate environment and assist them with accessing the required tools to create these applications. We will encourage the UAE universities to develop applications on BlackBerry devices."
Yousef Tuqan, chief executive of the Dubai-based online advertising agency Flip Media, which has developed a number of apps for the iPhone and other platforms, said that although the UAE was a huge market for BlackBerry the demand for applications was low.
"One of the main reasons for this is that there has been no way to effectively distribute applications to users," he said. "So I really do welcome App World - it should really spur application development. The main thing for people is convenience, so it's easy for people to download apps to their devices."
Users can download App World free directly to their phone. Some apps require payment while others - including one that displays prayer times and uses GPS to indicate the direction of Mecca - are free.