RIM steps up consumer push with MySpace, Tivo apps

RIM made a number of announcements of consumer services for BlackBerry devices, including partnerships with MySpace and Tivo.

Balsillie didn't indicate that RIM is abandoning its enterprise roots but described the new services as appealing to the personal lives of people who may already use BlackBerry devices to manage their e-mail and other work applications. One way that RIM hopes to let users bridge the two worlds is through shared calendars. The "unite" feature lets BlackBerry users converge their personal and work calendars into a single view.

As evidence of the demand for content on mobile devices, Balsillie said that the BlackBerry is the number one device accessing the mobile MLB.com Web site, and that more people accessed the NFL Web site from mobile phones than from PCs during the Super Bowl.

RIM isn't alone among traditionally business-focused phone makers now marketing more consumer offerings. It met with considerable success with its Pearl phone, its first designed for the mass market. Microsoft has also recently been pushing the idea that Windows Mobile phones can appeal to people while they're at work as well as in their personal lives.

The consumer service announcements from RIM come a day after the company launched its first flip phone. Flip phones, which make up 70 percent of all phones sold in the U.S., have traditionally had the reputation of being low-end phones, Balsillie said. "It's been fundamentally untapped in the smartphone space," he said. The new BlackBerry flip phone aptly balances the flip form factor with high-end features like a nice screen and a camera, he said.

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Nancy Gohring

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