While some analysts are suggesting Research In Motion could be the next handset maker up for grabs, the Canadian company is forging ahead with initiatives to compete in the smartphone market.
According to a report in The Wall Street Journal, RIM is working on a service that would let subscribers access music on its BlackBerry devices. The Journal cited "people familiar with the matter" describing a service that would work with RIM's BlackBerry Messenger, the company's instant-messaging service.
There's plenty of speculation around this one, from the name to the price to the capabilities. But Journal sources made one thing clear: RIM is not trying to go head-on with Apple's iTunes or Spotify. Still, a music service could make its devices more attractive to hard-core BlackBerry users who have lacked this native function.
Music Becomes Social
The rumored service has a rumored name -- BBM Music -- and it reportedly could launch as early as next week. According to the Journal, subscribers can access about 50 songs at any given time and share them with other BlackBerry Messenger users. RIM couldn't immediately be reached for comment.
"As social becomes more important and music become social, it seems like a logical move for RIM to want to include that type of functionality into the experience. The question is whether or not consumers will be willing to deal with one more music service and if there is space left for RIM," said Michael Gartenberg, an analyst at Gartner.
"The answer is going to depend, in part, on what kinds of deals RIM can get and what labels they can get on board. We'll have to wait and see if RIM can do what is necessary to make this a compelling and differentiated offering."
The Journal reported that RIM has closed or is close to inking deals with Universal Music Group, Sony Music, Warner Music Group, and EMI Group.
RIM has been moving in recent weeks to leverage its BlackBerry Messenger service, which boasts about 45 million users. In July, RIM announced BBM version 6 with support for so-called connected apps that make way for users to interact with each other from within the BBM-connected app.
Practically speaking, that means a BBM-connected game user can invite BBM friends to join in a game and then chat with them in real time while the game is being played without ever leaving the game app. BBM users can also share apps with friends in the ecosystem, collaborate using productivity apps, and discover new apps by viewing the list of apps that are posted to a BBM friend's profile. With these new features in mind, a music service seems to be the next step.
The music service would also coincide with the timing of BlackBerry App World 3.0. News reports suggest the revamped application marketplace will make its debut on Aug. 22. All of this follows the release of four new handsets and the new BlackBerry 7 operating system.