RIM Expands BlackBerry with New Deals

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Just a day after rolling out its first clamshell phone, Canada’s Research in Motion has unveiled a new agreements with Microsoft, MySpace, TiVo, and Slacker designed to bring new media-intensive services to its BlackBerry devices—and increase its smartphones’ appeal to consumers. The deals will enable BlackBerry users to tap into Internet radio, keep in touch with their MySpace friends, manage their TiVo set-top boxes, and tap into Microsoft’s Live Search for quick lookups and location-savvy information.

“As the BlackBerry platform continues to evolve and broaden its appeal to mobile users, RIM looks to answer our customers’ needs with a broad range of high-value solutions optimized for use with BlackBerry smartphones,” said RIM’s VP of corporate marketing Mark Guibert, in a statement.

Under it’s deal with Microsoft, BlackBerry users will be able to set Microsoft Live Search as the default search engine for the integrated BlackBerry Web Browser, as well as tap into Live Search from mobile.blackberry.com. The search deal follows an agreement earlier this year to bring Live services to BlackBerry devices; Windows Live Messenger and LIve Hotmail are already up and running.

RIM’s deal with MySpace is supposed to result in an “integrated MySpace Mobile” experience for BlackBerry devices. Users will be able to integrate MySpace messaging with BlackBerry’s push messaging, as well as support the primary social networking function and content services offered by MySpace; the application will also feature a photo uploading capability. RIM also will make a BlackBerry community “hub” page where users can sign up to be notified when the MySpace app is available, as well as grab BlackBerry-related promotional materials and content. The MySpace application should be available globally in October.

RIM’s deal with TiVo will initially enable BlackBerry users to surf programming schedules and set up recordings while they’re away from their precious set-top boxes. Eventually, RIM and TiVo plan to work out a way for BlackBerry users to tap into video content from their mobile devices. Expect the first TiVo capabilities to appear on BlackBerry devices later this year.

Finally, RIM and Slacker will enable Slacker users to tap into their favorite Internet-based radio stations…even when they’re not connected to a wireless network. The application will also enable users to tap into Personal Stations, and will work with Slacker Premium as well as Slacker Basic Radio, and enable users to access artist profiles, album reviews, and cover art—without ever having to deal with managing playlists or battle complicated software.

The new agreements highlight RIM’s emphasis on breaking its BlackBerry devices out of corporate, government, and enterprise markets, and out into the larger consumer world, where smart phones—and their mobile media capabilities—are enjoying a strong uptick in popularity, led in part by the massive hype surrounding Apple’s iPhone for the last year and a half. Apple has proved that consumers will adopt a device with a wide range of smartphone capabilities: RIM realizes it’s been in the smartphone business a lot longer than Apple, and it ought to be able to tap into newfound consumer interest and expand its market.

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