With all of their recent press and flood of new releases, you wouldn’t associate BlackBerry with the term Slacker, but all that is beginning to change.
Earlier this year, Research in Motion paired with Slacker, an Internet radio service, to bring the Slacker music application to BlackBerry phones in a move designed to further increase BlackBerry’s mainstream appeal. Once favored mostly by executives and those who needed immediate access to email, the BlackBerry in all forms now has crossed over into the hands of stay at home moms, college students and young professionals, thanks to a direct effort by RIM to make the BlackBerry smartphone more entertainment-based with games, social networking and now music applications.
As positive as it is for BlackBerry users, Slacker is reaping even more benefits from the arrangement. About a third of the new registrations for Slacker are from BlackBerry users. With mobile media coming of age, Internet-only radio stations are getting a much needed second wind.
Slacker was the breakthrough music app for BlackBerry, but others have been added, including rivals Pandora and iheartradio. Slacker lets users create their own stations by selecting artists they like. Unlike Pandora, which generates suggestions based on actual music preference, the Slacker app suggests music by similar artists from a vast library of nearly three million songs. One of the perks of Slacker that also sets it apart from Pandora is its ability to offer genre-specific stations tailored to the user’s preference for rock, country, blues etc. In addition, Slacker stations can be stored in the phone’s memory so users can access the music without a connection.
So as BlackBerry continues to evolve its music offerings, it becomes more of a head-to-head competitor to the iPhone, offering entertainment services across multiple handsets (compared with the iPhone’s two basic offerings.) I suspect teens will still gravitate to the iPhone, but those a bit older with sufficient disposable income will find a BlackBerry hard to resist as their all-in-one convergence gadget of choice. While the BlackBerry used to scream “uptight executive,” it now signals “well-connected and sophisticated.” And the mobile convergence device competition just got even more fierce.