Move over to the Top Downloads section and you'll find a straightforward list of the 25 most commonly downloaded applications. This single list covers both paid-for and free applications, which seems to be a bit of a mistake to us. For example, at the time of writing there were only two paid-for apps in the whole list. Apple offers two separate lists for free and paid-for apps and to our mind this is the better solution.
Next to the Top downloads section you'll find the icon for the search menu. This section is pretty self explanatory: just enter a keyword, hit search and matching apps are shown below. Developers can select keywords that are relevant to their apps, but RIM checks them over to make sure that developers aren't simply trying to spam the search engine. This should make sure the search results remain pretty accurate.
The final entry in the list, My World, is perhaps the most interesting. This menu acts as a sort of application manager. It shows you if there's an update available for any of your apps, lets you uninstall and re-install apps to manage the storage space on your device (the service remembers which apps you've already paid for) and is also the place where you can add application reviews or ratings and send recommendations to friends and colleagues.
Unlike Apple, where the iPhone, iPhone 3G and iPod Touch share much the same hardware and most of the same functionality, RIM's range of Blackberry devices is more diverse, especially now that the Storm has been added to the line-up. To prevent users from shelling out for an application only to find it doesn't work on their device, RIM has implemented a filtering system. Essentially App World always checks the device you're using to access the service and only shows you the applications that are compatible with it - a sensible and very user-friendly move.
Browsing through the store there's a number of things that grab your attention. The first is that RIM has managed to sign up some decent developers even at this early stage. The store is already populated with a number of good quality apps including those for Facebook, MySpace, Google and Yahoo. There's also an impressive range of productivity apps and a number of good games from names like Gamesloft and Glu Games. By the end of the first week Blackberry claims it had a total of nearly 1,000 applications available across all devices. We tested it on the Curve 8900 and it was showing 523 apps available, so presumably the extra apps weren't compatible with that device.