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Research In Motion (RIM) has had third-party applications available for its BlackBerry phones for a while, but because they aren’t listed in something as sexy as Apple’s App Store, many go largely unnoticed. This makes developers more likely to create apps for the App Store and now Google’s new Marketplace for its Android platform. But coming this spring, RIM hopes to changes that with the launch of its App Store equivalent, which now apparently has a name: the Blackberry Application Storefront.

It’s not entirely clear if this will be the final name, but the branding is all over the new submission pages for the store on BlackBerry’s website, as GigaOM points out. BlackBerry says that apps in the Application Storefront should not only target regular consumers, but also, in traditional BlackBerry form, business users as well. From the site:

Be first in line to submit applications you’ve designed for BlackBerry® smartphones to the new BlackBerry application storefront. We’re counting down to a spring launch and we’re accepting submissions right now. Find out how to submit an application to the BlackBerry application storefront.

The storefront will be an ideal spot for developers to bring their applications—whether they are consumer-focused or targeted to business users.

We’ve known about RIM’s determination to give a renewed focus to third-party apps for a while. In fact, RIM was the first company after Apple to get its own fund to entice developers to make apps on the platform. And RIM’s fund, called the BlackBerry Partners Fund, is actually larger than Kleiner Perkins’ iFund — $150 million versus $100 million.

The BlackBerry Partners Fund has already been awarding money to app makers, but this open submission process is the next logical step to gear up for a store launch — which can’t come soon enough for RIM. Apple recently announced it had surpassed 500 million application downloads in its App Store, and has 15,000 apps overall. The Android Marketplace is much smaller but is about to launch paid applications, which should lead to more rapid growth. And Palm recently took CES by storm with its Pre device, which yes, will also have its own app store when it launches around mid-year.

So Apple has the App Store, Google has the Marketplace, Palm has the App Catalog and now BlackBerry has the Application Storefront. When Microsoft decides to get into the application store game I wonder what its offering will be called? I’m betting on the Microsoft Live Mobile App Emporium.

Update: It looks like Microsoft may unveil its app store, dubbed “SkyMarket” as soon as next month.

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