BlackBerry App World has just added a significant new feature to their web portal: direct purchasing thanks to a tiny browser plug-in. Once installed, you just have to plug in your phone via USB to purchase and download apps through your desktop browser, rather than being stuck squinting at thumbnails or forwarding links to your phone.
With this, App World really sticks out from the other mobile application marketplaces. Android’s biggest play on a desktop web browser has been QR codes, but RIM has caught up there, and there’s no official, unified Android Market presence available on the dekstop yet. webOS and iPhone have pages for individual apps, but they’re a pain to access, and you can’t search through either of the whole catalogs without the help of third parties. Of course iTunes is a nice enough tailored experience for browsing apps, but installing the software and having to open it to download anything slows down the whole process. Nokia’s Ovi Store site is more cleanly laid out than App World, but doesn’t offer QR codes or this new shopping by browser feature.
Of course, the App World’s selection falls significantly behind the competition, but developers may be drawn to the store that has the most palatable browsing and shopping experience. In addition to carrier and credit card billing, RIM is providing a lot of opportunities for consumers to get premium apps, and consequently, for developers to make money. That being said, this new browser shopping feature is probably better news for developers than consumers since BlackBerry apps are noticeably more expensive in App World than elsewhere.
So what do you guys think of the new feature? Are you more likely to buy an app if you can peruse its features in a browser, or are strictly on-device app stores just fine?