Perhaps you caught the latest bit of BlackBerry controversy. Last week RIM VP of developer relations Alec Saunders tweeted that the next version of the BlackBerry PlayBook OS would eliminate sideloading. For those unfamiliar, sideloading involves downloading an app to your computer and then loading it onto your device via a USB cable (sometimes via Desktop Manager). This has been a popular way for BlackBerry users to get their apps, but apparently it will be no more with the latest PlayBook OS update. Sideloading will also not be available on BlackBerry 10. That’s going to change some of the ways BlackBerry users behave, and perhaps not in a good way. The reason Saunders gave for the decision: piracy. He claims that the Android market is riddled with piracy issues, and that RIM would like to avoid a similar issue. Their solution, apparently, is to lock down how users can install apps, in a way similar to Apple’s App Store. Saunders did clarify his statement yesterday, saying that sideloading won’t be completely gone. But it will certainly only work for users who have purchased an app. That is, you won’t be able to just willy nilly load third party apps from non-App World sources onto your PlayBook or, eventually, BlackBerry 10 device. Considering many users get their apps this way, it can cause some issues. We can speculate about all the possible ramifications of such a maneuver. Developers won’t hurt, because RIM is still making it available to them. But consumers will have to go through App World or other authorized app store. What that makes me wonder is whether RIM will continue to support third-party app stores such as MobiHand and Handango. It’s not written in stone that they’ll be ousted from the ecosystem, but considering the problems we’ve seen from both platforms, and with RIM’s increasing focus on App World, we could see App World become the exclusive app outlet for the PlayBook and BlackBerry 10, much like the App Store is the exclusive app outlet for iOS. Again, this is just speculation. But it does seem that things are starting to change with RIM. Will they slam down the iron fist and force App World on everyone?