User ratings will affect BlackBerry app store rankings, says RIM
Good news for gamers, bad news for fart app devs
"We've got to make it simple for consumers to purchase, and we're taking a quality approach," he says.
"Any good store is about the applications in the store, not the actual store itself. We want developers to be building really rich, good applications. And we'll have a ranking system where you can star-rate the quality of the applications."
This could lead to a very different-looking Top 100 chart to the App Store, which uses popularity as one of its key sorting tools.
"It's not the case that because something is a cheap application that thousands or millions of people have downloaded, it goes high up the rankings," says O'Neill. "A good star ranking will mean that gets bumped up."
The BlackBerry Application Storefront launches in March on handsets, with a desktop portal following in May. As previously announced, RIM is giving developers an 80 per cent revenue share from sales on the store - higher than the 70 per cent offered by the likes of Apple and Google.
"We've always had multiple channels to market for consumer applications," says O'Neill. "We've had various properties online, bookmarks on the device browsers, and a programme where we can introduce BlackBerry applications to carriers.
"The guys at EA Mobile and Gameloft have become game centres for carriers: O2's whole games centre is powered by Gameloft. So it's not just about our storefront."
Overall though, O'Neill says games will play a big role in the evolution of the BlackBerry Application Storefront. "We've had great relationships with guys like Gameloft, EA, THQ and others since we started our alliance programme," he says.
"The opportunity for retro games is huge on platforms like BlackBerry. If there was a Sinclair Spectrum emulator, I'd be all over it! But I've got FIFA, The Simpsons and Command & Conquer on my device too.
"Everything is trending to doing more with consumer applications, from the battery life getting better, to the performance and memory improvements."
During our interview, O'Neill whipped out a Zeemote JS1 controller, and highlighted it as an example of innovation on the accessory side that RIM is keen to promote through its carrier partnerships.
Earlier this week, Zeemote showed off the JS1's new compatability with BlackBerry.
UPDATE: The original version of this story referred to the BlackBerry Application Center rather than the Storefront - the two are different things, so we've corrected that.