It's inevitable. News surfaces about a new iPhone or Android application and almost immediately it's followed by "When are we getting our BlackBerry app?"
And with good reason. For all the buzz about Google and Apple handsets, BlackBerry remains the dominant force in smart mobile devices. So it shouldn't come as any surprise that MySpace has released an application for the BlackBerry platform. What is surprising, however, is how long it has taken.
Research In Motion (RIM) and MySpace development efforts back in September. At that time, only the iPhone had a MySpace app. Today, there's an app available for Android, as well. And that leaves RIM a little late to the party.ReadWriteWeb's Sarah Perez covered the announcement of the
As Sarah asked in a previous review:
"This app is very much like the Facebook app for Blackberry, which was announced back in late 2007. Now, almost a year later, a MySpace version is planned. Why the holdup?"
Why indeed? Granted, developing for any new platform is a challenge. As is supporting multiple platforms on a single site. But, at first blush, the new BlackBerry app doesn't appear to be doing anything revolutionary. It seems to simply recreate a subset of the functionality found on the Web site. The only major difference being that it is formatted for the smaller screen.
And in reality, the development of the app - from the announcement of the MySpace and RIM partnership to the release - has actually been fairly short. Deciding to build the app - rather than the time it took to build the app - was definitely the gating factor. And that raises another question.
Why BlackBerry? Why Now?
The answer might be the most obvious one: the BlackBerry demographic is changing. In the past, the majority of BlackBerry users were interested in one thing: an easy way to read and respond to email. Even the phone seemed secondary.
Today, as more and more activities are being moved to mobile devices, BlackBerry has a much wider appeal - and it's not all business people. This new breed of BlackBerry users want to do more than respond to email. And RIM is working to make sure that they meet that demand, albeit in a "following rather than leading" fashion.
But are there really BlackBerry users on MySpace? There are a few. As of this writing, the number of BlackBerry friends is sitting at nearly 18,000 users. And the MySpace Mobile site - http://m.myspace.com - is seeing a very respectable 14 million monthly unique mobile visits, which is right in-line with numbers that Facebook mobile is seeing. If the BlackBerry app is actually meeting a need, we should see both of those MySpace numbers grow substantially over the next few months.
Still the question remains: why now? And how does this continued push to the mobile platform play into some of MySpace's latest revenue plans, like MyAds? The answers to those questions are still a little murky. We'll just have to wait and see how many BlackBerry friends Tom adds over the coming months.