Research In Motion has launched an online store selling entertainment, games, news, and travel applications to its BlackBerry users.

RIM said on Wednesday its online store was immediately available to BlackBerry owners in Britain, Canada, and the United States.

Unlike the iPhone application store of rival Apple Inc, which offers 70 percent of revenue from each piece of software to the developer, RIM plans to offer 80 percent.

The rest of the revenue will be shared between RIM and wireless carriers, co-chief executive Jim Balsillie said in an interview. We think that's a fair distribution of the economics, he said.

The company's media-rich BlackBerry smartphones, such as the Pearl, Curve, Storm and Bold models, compete with Apple's iPhone for retail customers.

Ontario-based RIM has pushed aggressively to diversify its user base beyond executives, lawyers, politicians and other professionals who use BlackBerrys to send wireless e-mail.

I think we've firmly cut over to the broader consumer marketplace, Balsillie said.

Offering a slate of interesting and diverse smartphone software, from the practical to the entertaining, can sometimes mean the difference between keeping and losing a user -- someone who has spent money on such software may be reluctant to switch to a different device and have to pay all over again.

RIM first announced its plan to enter the increasingly crowded market for mobile software supermarkets last year.

Microsoft Corp is also working on a mobile phone software marketplace and has signed up partners such as Web music service Pandora, game publisher Electronic Arts, and social networking site Facebook.

Separately on Wednesday, Nokia, the world's biggest mobile phone maker, said on thousands of developers and content providers had registered to sell content in its Ovi online store, which will be opened in early May.

Microsoft and Nokia plan to offer 70 percent of application revenue to software developers.


RIM was set to report earnings on Thursday after warning in February its quarterly profit will come in at the low end of its forecasts. Still, it said it expects to add 20 percent more subscribers than the 2.9 million it earlier predicted.

It cited a variety of factors in the profit warning, including product mix, lowered channel inventory levels and a higher ratio of new subscriber sales to upgrades and replacement sales.

RIM shares have tumbled to about $45 on the Nasdaq from the year high of $148.13 they hit in June 2008. Analysts have expressed concern about the company's gross margins and its ability to maintain momentum amid a widespread recession.

Retail consumers have curbed spending, which may mean they are not willing to pay more for flashy new smartphones.

At the same time, corporations are trimming their budgets, which could prompt them to delay upgrading to newer BlackBerry models.

(Additional reporting by Tarmo Virki in Helsinki; editing by Peter Galloway and Dan Lalor)