**Editor's Note: Click here for our list of December's hottest selling smartphones to see BlackBerry's competition.**
Not only are big changes coming to Research In Motion's BlackBerry smartphones, but to the company's applications store as well.
No longer will BlackBerry App World carry "app" in the title; from here on it will be known simply as BlackBerry World to reflect the fact that it's much more than just an apps store — you can find video and music there as well. BB Music, the company's new music service, gives subscribers free access for the first 30 days; it will set them back $5 per month after that.
The once-great Canadian smartphone giant is looking for a comeback when its BlackBerry 10 operating system debuts next week. The revamped BlackBerry World will feature more than 70,000 apps. While that's far behind the hundreds of thousands offered in Apple and Google storefronts, it's a pretty darn good start; RIM offered plenty of incentives to get those submissions earlier this month.
“The wait for BlackBerry 10 has been a long one, but developers will find much to like with RIM’s new platform," noted Yankee Group principal analyst Jason Armitage, commenting on a The Next Web article. "Although RIM is not breaking new ground with these announcements, a single location for customers to access apps and entertainment will improve cross-marketing and increase app revenues. The real benefits lie in a platform that is easy to develop for and port existing apps to. Time-to-market for app projects will not hold back RIM’s challenge in the year ahead to confirm itself as the third mobile ecosystem."
The market has been very bullish on RIM over the past few months. The company's stock price doubled from September to December 2012 before losing half of those gains after a lousy earnings report just before Christmas. There's been no stopping the company since Jan. 9. Riding positive reviews of BB10, the price has gone up more than 50 percent in less than two weeks – up 13 percent on Tuesday alone, closing at $17.90, higher than it's been in more than a year.
Meantime, a lot of eyes are on the first two BB10 smartphones ready to roll out next week. While they don't have official names, the one everyone's calling the Z10 is making its video debut on a German blog. The author is high on the touchscreen device, comparing it favorably to the iPhone, noting that it's likely to carry a price tag under $199, considerably less than an iPhone and most high-end Android handsets.
Follow senior online managing editor @Craig_Galbraith on Twitter.