Owners of Research In Motion Ltd.'s (RIMM) BlackBerry will now have access to a variety of applications for their communication devices through the new BlackBerry App World. Similar to Apple Inc.'s (AAPL) App Store, users will now be able to download both free and paid apps to their phones. The program, launched Wednesday, offers hundreds of apps for the BlackBerry.

The store is available on BlackBerry's website, and apps are featured in all the major categories, including Games, Productivity, Entertainment, News, Weather, Finance, Health, and Social Networking. On the first day, it offers 166 games, 99 productivity and utility apps, and 69 reference and book apps.

However, notable omissions include the lack of a Twitter app, although there is a Facebook app. There is also no Google Inc. (GOOG), Amazon (AMZN), or Kindle app.

All payments will be processed through PayPal. BlackBerry has been planning to launch its own App site for around a year now following the success of Apple's Iphone.

Bringing together a broad mix of personal and business applications for users, the Waterloo, Canada-based company's new feature will be immediately available to users in the U.S., U.K., and Canada. The company said that the initial launch will be followed by more country launches.

Research In Motion noted that users in the three chosen countries need to log on to www.blackberry.com/appworld from their handset to download the BlackBerry App World application on to their BlackBerry phones. Users can even conveniently access the application over both their Wi-Fi and cellular networks.

The new on-device feature supports both free and for-purchase applications and is designed to automatically present the relevant catalog of available applications as per the user's BlackBerry model.

Among its various features, App World displays several applications on its front page carousel, which makes it easy for users to browse through a select number of featured applications that will be varied from week to week. The company said it expects about 1,000 applications to be posted by partners this week.

RIMM closed Tuesday's regular trading session on Nasdaq at $43.11, down $0.14, or 0.32%, on a volume of 12.37 million shares.

On the Toronto Stock Exchange, RIM.TO closed Tuesday's regular trading session at C$ 54.49, down C$0.29, with a volume of 1.44 million shares

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