Like most things RIM, news about a BlackBerry App Store was leaked a good few weeks in advance of the official announcement, but at last we know what's the official what...
Officially dubbed the 'BlackBerry application storefront' (yep, all lower case), it won't launch in March 2009 but will allow content from third party developers to be included from December 2008. As with the iPhone / iPod touch's app store, programmers will be able to choose their own pricing from their creations with RIM getting a 20 per cent cut. All payments will be taken through money bandits site Paypal. Freely available applications will not face a charge.
Confusing things somewhat is also 'BlackBerry application center (US-sic)' which will be a carrier customised on-device portal where a network can pick and choose what applications it wishes to allow (goodbye VoIP over 3G). Corporations using BlackBerry Enterprise Server or BlackBerry Professional Software will also have the right to control what apps are available to their employees. Meh.
After much padding in a very long winded statement, RIM CEO Mile Lazaridis eventually got around to stating: "The new BlackBerry application storefront and BlackBerry application centers will further support the growing BlackBerry ecosystem and help bridge consumers with developers and carriers as more and more innovative and interesting applications arrive."
So while RIM is unlikely to be as despotic as Apple, corporations and networks probably will be and though Android's freedom is enticing the lack of any paid apps may turn off larger profit hungry organisations looking to port high grade professional apps.
Three stores in and already no-one is perfect!