Just a day after unveiling its first flip phone, Research In Motion (RIM) further emphasized its clear intent to bring its Blackberry smartphones to the consumer market. RIM Announced Thursday at CTIA its new ’lifestyle’ integrated applications for the Blackberry, including new partnerships with TiVo, Microsoft, MySpace, Slacker and Ticketmaster. RIM is looking to make a big splash as it makes its full entry into the consumer market and it seems like Apple is standing right in its sights.
A phone is about communication and RIM has never forgotten that- it has built its empire on that ideology. While Blackberrys are not exactly known for their phone abilities, RIM has nearly perfected the art of mobile email communication to the degree where as hard as other companies try, RIM’s hold on that market remains unquestioned. As great as push email is for the the corporate environment however, its not a consumer-targeted style of communication, nor is the design of the classic Blackberry very well suited for the consumer. RIM is looking to change all that by creating a future of Blackberrys with consumer communication and needs in mind.
The expansion for RIM from the corporate environment to the consumer environment is really nothing new. The first Blackberrys were text-only email devices with monochrome displays- even the addition of full phone functionality was not an option until later. The first designs of Blackberrys were also dull and boring in appearance and arguably remained that way until only rather
recently. The addition of an integrated camera was another more recent addition, an often unwanted feature in the corporate environment, but adored by consumers. The candy bar-styled Blackberry Pearl was yet another clear sign of the direction RIM was expanding- it was a more affordable device with a more consumer styled design that still worked well for email.
RIM’s excellent tactile qwerty keypad has also attracted some consumer attention and with the ever increasingly consumer-friendly designs, crackberry addicts are now being made of even teenagers, something RIM’s quarterly growth reflects. With the Blackberry Pearl Flip 8220 announced Wednesday, the Blackberry Bold now shipping and a touchscreen-based Blackberry soon to come, it is clear RIM has all the hardware needed now to make a really big splash in the consumer market. The flip phone is an inexpensive consumer favorite, the Blackberry Bold remains true to older Blackberry designs and the upcoming touchscreen Blackberry is a clear attempt to violate Apple’s personal space.
RIM has not forgotten the most important aspect for these new smartphones though and that is communication. While Apple is trying to create its own little world in a world with its AppStore, focusing on games and widgets, RIM knows its the ability to communicate well that will make smartphones sell. Already partnered with Facebook, RIM’s newest partnerships with TiVo, Microsoft, MySpace, Slacker and Ticketmaster just go to show that RIM knows where the communication flows from for consumers. Although applications allowing for Facebook and MySpace interactions are not necessarily new to mobile devices, if there was one company that could perfect such form of communication, it’s RIM.
RIM’s other partnerships speak of even greater things to come from the new Blackberry devices, such as advanced remote TiVo scheduling and browsing, exclusive Slacker radio services, powerful Microsoft search engine features and online ticket sales. What’s even better about this all is that a lot of these services can be accessed through WiFi, saving on cellular carrier charges. Apple can continue to load up on fluffed features and services, but if they cannot provide what is actually important to the consumer, they are going to have a rough time competing with RIM, especially if their most affordable smartphone remains the iPhone.