RIM, Amazon Debut MP3 for BlackBerry

Research In Motion and Amazon this week launched a beta version of Amazon MP3 for BlackBerry, a mobile application that lets users scan, buy and download digital music files from the online retailer's 14 million-plus song catalog.

Company officials said the individual songs can be downloaded via WiFi or any other wireless connection and smartphones running RIM's (NASDAQ: RIMM) BlackBerry 6 mobile operating system can use the Universal Search tool to quickly hunt down songs by artist or genre or find out about special pricing deals.

Amazon MP3 for BlackBerry, which can be downloaded for free at the App World Test Center, also features new social media tools that lets users share new music, reviews and comments on Facebook, Twitter and through SMS, email and BlackBerry Messenger, bringing an element of interaction similar to the Ping social networking feature found in Apple's iTunes app.

"Amazon MP3 for BlackBerry smartphones makes it fun and easy to get new music and we're thrilled to work with Amazon to bring this service to users," Alistair Mitchell, vice president of BlackBerry's BBM platform and integrated services group, said in a statement.

The app will also feature a free song of the day as well as daily album deals as well as a bookmarking feature that lets users tag a song or album to preview or buy at a later time.

Users will also be able to redeem Amazon gift cards and other promotions directly through the app and parents, if so inclined, can adjust the explicit content control settings before their children start browsing.

Facing withering stress and competition from Apple's iPhone and numerous Android-based devices, RIM and its BlackBerry line is struggling to garner consumer interest for what's largely been considered a business-centric device.

In November, NPD Group reported that Android expanded its lead among mobile operating system providers to 44 percent of smartphone sold in the third quarter, up 11 percent quarter-to-quarter. Apple's iOS picked up 1 percent to 23 percent in that same period while BlackBerry OS fell to third place, losing 6 percent to 22 percent.

Earlier this month, RIM acquired user interface designer The Astonishing Tribe in what was widely viewed as a concession by top executives that its smartphones and soon-to-be-released tablet PCs needed a more Apple-like look and feel to excite consumers.

In May, another NPD Group report found that Apple's iTunes accounted for 28 percent of all music purchased by U.S. customers in the first quarter, up 4 percent from the year-ago quarter.

Amazon, meanwhile, gained 3 percent to pull itself into a tie for second place with retailing giant Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT) at 12 percent. NPD also found that 40 percent of all music sold in the first three months of the year was purchased online, up 5 percent from the same period in 2009.

Larry Barrett is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.


Amazon, Blackberry, Apple, iTunes, Research In Motion