Research In Motion has opted to intensify its challenge to rivals in the smartphone competition by calling in some celebrity help in the effort.
Looking to increase its consumer retail market share for its BlackBerry devices, Canada-based RIM said in published reports that it is aligning with Dipdive, a politics-heavy online music service and social network.
RIM officials did not return telephone and e-mail requests for comment.
Dipdive, a grassroots Web site hip-hop star Will.i.am launched, features the artist’s music video homage to Barack Obama, “Yes We Can.”
Not a Political Statement
Any such partnership should not be construed as a political statement by RIM, however, IDC analyst Chris Hazelton told TechNewsWorld. All it amounts to is one of many venues RIM is utilizing to be as accessible to more people on more phones.
“What RIM is doing is offering a lot of different applications,” Hazelton noted, citing a partnership launched last fall between RIM and the social networking site Facebook as an example.
“RIM developed in partnership with Facebook an application that resides on the BlackBerry and, basically, any messages you get from Facebook are pushed through the BlackBerry application,” he said. “The same thing is happening at IBM (Lotus) Connections. RIM is doing all these different applications, and this seems like it would be another of several hundred, if not thousand, application partnerships RIM would be doing.”
Moving Beyond the Business Culture
The push is RIM’s way of expanding BlackBerry usage beyond the business and government segment that has traditionally dominated the company’s sales, said Jack Gold, principal analyst of J. Gold Associates.
“What it’s showing is that BlackBerry is becoming a significant consumer brand and not just a business brand,” Gold told TechNewsWorld. “But to do that, they need to show a wider array of applications.”
Over the summer, Apple’s iPhone hit the market and, in the fourth quarter, the product had gained a 28-percent share of the rapidly growing U.S. smartphone market, behind RIM’s 41 percent but well ahead of Palm’s 9 percent showing, according to research firm Canalys.
The iPhone represents a juggernaut in the music category, even as BlackBerrys have taken on music capabilities in response to consumer demand, Gold commented. “Honestly, there’s no way BlackBerry is going to touch the iTunes folks.”
Keeping Up With Rivals
Another rival, Nokia, introduced its Ovi platform in August, further heating up the competitive field, Hazelton said.
RIM has made a splash in the market with the small, light Curve, which has a keyboard, media player and camera; and the even smaller Pearl, he added. Both items have multimedia and global positioning software.
RIM is simply doing all it can to up the ante on rivals, Hazelton said. “What has really led to a lot of RIM’s growth the last year is the launch of the Pearl and the Curve. To continue the success of those devices, there needs to be a platform that will support the consumer side of the enterprise.”
Content-driven applications are the answer, he continued. “That’s where potential revenue share is.”
RIM shares trading more than 3 percent lower than Wednesday’s closing price of US$101.73, at $98.56, late Thursday on the Nasdaq stock exchange. The stock had a 52-week range of $42.93, which it reached Nov. 7, and $137.01, on April 18.