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Verizon app store to be mandated; new BlackBerry sells well

As Verizon’s relatively quiet launch of the BlackBerry Tour proved successful, the nation’s No. 1 wireless carrier also stirred up criticism by declaring that all Verizon-sold phones will, by default, have access only to the company’s own application store.

Since the successful launch of Apple’s App Store one year ago, most all major handset models – Android, BlackBerry, Nokia, Palm and Windows Mobile – have come to feature their own application stores.

Verizon, instead, hopes to create a carrier-specific application download destination, run and maintained by Verizon itself. To bolster their own offering, all handsets sold by the wireless carrier will have the Verizon application store installed – and only the Verizon application store.

Based on Verizon’s plans, users who buy a phone will still be able to install the device-specific application store, such as the BlackBerry App World, if they so choose.

In an effort to kick-start their own application store, Verizon has planned an event on July 28 in hopes of courting developers to write software for their platform.

Ryan Hughes, VP Partner Management with Verizon, told GigaOM that the Verizon store will allow developers to tie applications into subscriber data for info about location, or to bill a customer for the purchase of software. Any applications must go through an approval process with the company.

Hughes said that the Verizon app store should be launched to consumers before the end of the year, and more details are forthcoming at the Verizon Developer Community Conference in San Jose, Calif., later this month.

Of course, the prospect of a carrier (and not platform) specific software store would be a major shift from the direction the wireless industry is currently headed. Writing about the news Tuesday, PC World’s Ian Paul speculated: “I think it's a safe bet that Verizon's app store will make it very difficult for the post-AT&T iPhone to make the jump to ‘America's Largest and Most Reliable Network.’”

But the nation’s largest network did find success with Research in Motion’s new BlackBerry Tour, which sold between 275,000 and 300,000 units in its first 24 hours. The device was also released on Sprint’s network, though numbers were not immediately available.

Released on Sunday, the new BlackBerry managed to compare, in terms of sales, with the debut of the original iPhone in 2007 - a product that arrived with a great deal more fanfare.

However, Apple’s recent launch of the iPhone 3GS managed to move over one million units in its first three days.

The BlackBerry Tour sells for $199 with a $100 rebate and two-year contract.