No more business as usual for the BlackBerry

Vodafone is working with BlackBerry manufacturer RIM to put more consumer applications onto the mainly business-oriented device

If Vodafone and RIM have their way, the BlackBerry could lose its image as the toy for the executive who has everything.

On Monday at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, the operator announced a "deepening" of its relationship with the Canadian handset company. According to Vodafone, the BlackBerry will continue to be aimed at the business market, but the company has now also added the device to its set of preferred consumer platforms. Vodafone wants to see tighter integration of its own applications and services into the BlackBerry platform, the company said.

"This strategic agreement aims to deliver an optimised experience, aimed squarely at the needs of the customer," said Vodafone's global director of terminals, Jens Schulte-Bockum, on Monday. "In addition to growing the established enterprise market, we fully expect the appeal of the BlackBerry platform to be strongly adopted by consumers [who will be] attracted by best-in-class messaging and email, internet experience [and] a range of multimedia capabilities, including music and imaging functionality."

In the last year, RIM has been actively seeking to make the BlackBerry smartphone more attractive to consumers. Its Pearl and Curve handsets are seen as attempts to move away from the device's strongly business-centric past. RIM has also recently seen competition grow in the business market, particularly in the messaging space, where the BlackBerry platform's push-email capabilities are now matched by several other manufacturers and providers.


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