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RIM has opened an online portal for BlackBerry users who want to browse for apps on a larger screen, as the company moves to better emulate its hero Apple.

The BlackBerry store may not be bursting at the seams, but while RIM claims it has no interest in filling the shelves with tat it would still like to copy the rest of Apple's model and has launched a web-based application store that synchronises with a plugged-in BlackBerry device.

That requirement to synchronise with a device means that version 2 of the online store isn't entirely web-based - websites aren't really allowed to interact with plugged in peripherals, so BlackBerry users have to install a plug-in extension to get their browser to act more like iTunes.

The process also requires an online ID, but RIM has provided comprehensive help on getting your BlackBerry apps.

Version 1 of BlackBerry App World already allowed browsing for apps, and one could ask for an application to be sent to a BlackBerry via an SMS link, but now applications can be downloaded and installed directly.

That's important when the most serious barrier to mobile application sales is the complexity of the buying process - anything that makes it easy to buy stuff increases sales. ®

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