What's next for BlackBerry? RIM reveals key DevCon plans

RIM isn't shy about drumming up excitement for its annual BlackBerry Developer Conference later this month. Here are hints at what the smartphone-maker has in store.

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BlackBerry, RIM
RIM has plans for BlackBerry, oh yes it does.

With the lukewarm reception of the BlackBerry Torch and with Android's steady onward march into market share, few pundits expected RIM to exceed its revenue estimates for the quarter.

Now with more BlackBerry Curves sporting OS 6 flowing into the market, RIM's continued courtship of application developers is crucial. To that end, the company released a video in which RIM talks about its developer strategy, and a not-so-secret list of services the company plans to announce at its upcoming BlackBerry Developer Conference in San Francisco later this month.

RIM's expected keynote announcements include unveiling a new social-apps platform that will expand the device-to-device communications of BlackBerry Messenger to other apps. RIM's keeping the details hush-hush, but we're wondering if the expanded device-to-device data push could include quickly transferring music, video, and app recommendations, maps, or real-time games from one BlackBerry to another.

Other announcements will center on payment and billing options, some new tools for enterprise app developers, and changes to the BlackBerry Widgets Platform. Specifically, RIM will share its plan for Web developers to build full-featured "Super Apps" in HTML5, an emerging standard of Web coding.

In addition, the BlackBerry-maker will use the conference keynote and sessions to court Web developers in an effort to support its stated commitment to open standards. With OS 6, for instance, the company has finally replaced its slow, clunky, and proprietary Web browser in favor of Webkit. Furthermore, RIM has said that its capability to integrate handsets with applications and its history of providing strong security will be BlackBerry's marker of mobile differentiation going forward.

Anything RIM can do to energize developers and fill up BlackBerry's App World is key, especially if RIM is hopes to increase the number of hands holding BlackBerrys, let alone keep that number steady. Until we know the depth of these changes, it's yet to be seen if RIM can offer compelling new features, or if its best consumer argument is merely an Android clone.