Research in Motion is merging social networking with music on its Blackberry smartphones in the hopes of attracting more consumers.
This week the company announced that it is partnering with pop artist Will.i.am by making his Dipdive online community and content available to Blackberry users. Will.i.am is a founding member of the group Black Eyed Peas and his "Yes We Can" Barack Obama video has been a huge hit on YouTube.
Research in Motion dominates the business smartphone market. And business users make up roughly two-thirds of its 12 million Blackberry customers. But the company is looking to expand its reach into the consumer market. The company's most recent move to attract casual mobile users has been to combine music and social networking with its push email and Web services.
RIM's co-CEO Jim Balsillie told the wire service Reuters in an interview that he sees music and social networking as the two hottest trends of the moment. And he sees the two things merging into a single multimedia experience. He said that Dipdive is an example of this "where politics-heavy blogging meets music video content."
RIM initiated its push into the consumer market with the Blackberry Pearl device. And the company has also been offering "lifestyle applications" for its devices. Last year, it announced partnership with Facebook to make it easier for users of the social networking site to access their profile and information from Blackberries.
As RIM adds more of these features and functionality, the company is likely to bump up against other competitors, such as Apple's iPhone. But RIM has said repeatedly that it doesn't see Apple as a threat.
That could soon change, since Apple announced on Thursday that it has licensed the Microsoft ActiveSync protocol, which will make it much easier to do push e-mail and contacts with Exchange servers.