Blackberry Developer Conference: RIM to address consumer market

The Blackberry Developer Conference that opens later today is already a success, having doubled the number of delegates from last year.

The Blackberry Developer Conference that opens later today is already a success, having doubled the number of delegates from last year.

Speaking ahead of today's keynote announcement at the Blackberry Developer Conference, which will take an unusual three hours to deliver, Research in Motion (RIM) sources said sales to its traditional enterprise users had held up well in the recession. However, sales to consumers had yet to take off: "We're at the bottom of the hockey stick (graph of sales growth)," said one delegate.

The question observers are asking is, how much will that change the Blackberry's nature? To answer that question, almost all of RIM's top brass are in San Francisco this week.

It is likely that RIM will pursue its present course of going both up and down market in terms of device functionality, say observers.

A RIM source said consumers were keen to buy the most function-rich devices on the market, essentially for bragging rights. This also made high-end devices attractive for C-level executives, he noted.

Firms still battling the recession were unlikely to buy such devices for general staff, but they still wanted them to have connectivity and robust applications in cheaper packages, a RIM source said.

This was being reflected in the sales figures, he said. Cheaper units like the 8520 Curve were very popular as standard issue devices, but the new touch screen devices were finding a niche among executives and people who might otherwise buy an iPhone or Android phone.

Computer Weekly spoke to software testers who said consumers were starting to suffer from "app fatigue". One said Apple's App Store might have 100,000 applications, but the vast majority were never downloaded.

Observers noted that RIM is likely to push applications such as video, music and "always-on" connections to social networking applications such as Twitter and Facebook.

But business users will be more interested to know what alliances RIM will announce with key enterprise vendors, particularly those who deliver supply chain applications.

2009 Blackberry Developer Conference

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