RIM’s Jim Balsillie says apps are not a key component of the mobile web

“You don’t have the make the web an app,” Jim Balsillie, co-CEO of Canadian tech titan Research in Motion, said yesterday the Web 2.0 conference in San Fran. “I don’t need a YouTube app to go to YouTube.”

To be clear, he isn’t saying apps are useless—“There is an enormous role for apps in mobility,” he affirms—but rather, that the mobile web should remain open and not controlled by a monopoly. Quoth The New York Times:

Mr. Balsillie’s contention is that apps aren’t as necessary as Steven P. Jobs, Apple’s chief executive, leads the world to believe through his marketing of the Apple App Store. Nor does Mr. Balsillie agree with Apple’s requirement that developers use proprietary tools for building apps for the iPhone and iPad.

Mentioning Apple is inevitable, considering how tense the conflict between the two companies has become. Their longstanding battle stems from starkly contrasting viewpoints.

“I don’t see them catching up with us in the foreseeable future,” Mr. Jobs said before offering R.I.M. some unsolicited business advice that it refocus on becoming a software platform company instead.

Where RIM goes from here is uncertain. WIth Jim’s firm stance on apps, RIM clearly will not be trying to compete with Apple or Android’s app libraries.

Like Microsoft, it’s feeling some pressure to innovate. But, like Microsoft, it’s a large and well-established company with a loyal following. It’s hardly time to panic—or take advice from your enemy. As long as backward stumbles are avoided, the venerable Blackberry maker will continue to hold its own, app-happy or otherwise.