RIM reveals music and video storefront partners for BlackBerry 10

28 Jan 2013

The fightback for RIM begins with BlackBerry 10 and the smartphone maker has revealed major content alliances with major Hollywood studios, broadcast networks and record labels for its multimedia storefront, including a DRM-free music download section.

RIM will be taking the wraps off its BlackBerry 10 platform and the first two BlackBerry 10 smartphones on Wednesday (30 January).

The Canadian handset maker revealed its new content offering that will come with the next-generation BlackBerry 10 OS will feature content from all major studios, record labels and broadcast networks.

Users will be able to preview tracks and access the content using multiple payment options via their unique BlackBerry IDs.

A video download and rental section will initially be available in the US, UK, Canada and 15 other countries around the world.

RIM has struck content deals with 20th Century Fox, Lionsgate, MGM, Walt Disney, Paramount, Universal Pictures and Sony Pictures, to name but a few.

Users will also have access to TV shows from BBC Worldwide, ABC, CBS, ITV, National Geographic, 20th Century Fox TV, NBC Universal, and more.

BlackBerry World’s storefront will also feature an extensive catalogue from major and independent labels, including Sony, Universal, Warner, 4AD, The Orchard and XL.

 “Music and video content is an integral part of a rich mobile experience. People want easy and convenient access to their favourite music, movies and TV shows wherever they are,” said Frank Boulben, chief marketing officer at Research In Motion.

“RIM is committed to working with content providers to bring the best, most up-to-date content to our customers with BlackBerry 10, and to make it easy for them to get what they want,” Boulben said.

Will BlackBerry 10 save RIM?

But will BlackBerry 10 and the plethora of media titles that RIM has assembled save the company from annihilation in the smartphone space or will it thrust the company back to the top of the league where it previously went unrivalled for almost a decade?

No, said Ovum’s chief telecoms analyst Jan Dawson. “Despite the brief bump RIM will see from the launch of BB10, we expect its decline to continue longer term. At its peak, RIM shipped between 12m and 15m devices per quarter, but there is no way it can hit this number on a sustainable basis once the BB10 launch filters through. Though the new platform should have significant appeal to existing users, we don’t expect it to win significant numbers of converts from other platforms. There is little in the new platform that suggests it will have the compelling apps, content stores, or the broader ecosystem that consumers have come to expect in a competitive smartphone platform.

“There are bright spots in emerging markets, where BlackBerry devices have become a middle-class status symbol as they once were in mature markets.

“But these devices are low-priced and based on BB10’s predecessor BB7, which is destined for the scrap heap in the medium term. As developers shift their focus to BB10, it will be harder and harder for RIM to maintain the appeal of the older platform in these markets, especially since it is unlikely to release new hardware running BB7. BB10, meanwhile, requires high-end specs that will be impossible to deliver at such price points in the near future. Therefore, the current popularity of BlackBerry in emerging markets is likely to be short-lived, especially as Android-based alternatives begin to flood the market at even lower prices.

“In all, RIM continues to face the twin demons of consumer-driven buying power and a chronic inability to appeal to mature market consumers. There is nothing in what we’ve seen so far of BB10 that suggests it will conquer the second of these demons, and the first is utterly out of RIM’s control. We don’t expect a speedy exit from the market; with no debt, 80m subscribers and profitability in the black in at least some recent quarters, the company can continue in this vein for years. But its glory days are past, and it is only a matter of time before it reaches a natural end,” Dawson said.

BlackBerry keys image via Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years