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RIM Dances Into a New Market With BlackBerry 6.0

RIM’s released video footage of its upcoming BlackBerry 6.0 software–its answer to Android and iPhones. The interface itself is a little unsurprising, but the message behind the vid is clear: RIM is cool, and not just for business stiffs.

RIM blackberry video

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RIM’s released video footage of its upcoming BlackBerry 6.0 software–its answer to Android and iPhones. The interface itself is a little unsurprising, but the message behind the vid is clear: RIM is cool, and not just for business stiffs.

We already described how the BlackBerry hardware is suffering a bit of an image problem–the recent minor upgrades almost amount to incremental product spam. Hence the company’s future smartphone fortunes, assuming it wants to remain at least proximal to the bleeding edge of smartphones, hinges on the new touch-friendly 6.0 firmware. And part of getting that exciting newness known to the smartphone-buying public is to advertise it.

Which brings us to the clip. It’s a quick demo of the UI, which does indeed sparkle with some rethought elements, like the on-screen QWERTY keyboard, a slightly iTunes-esque music player, a contacts manager, a glimpse of the new browser, and some in-call handling options. These elements all carry that unmistakable plain, dark BlackBerry UI styling, and seem to borrow only a few design cues from Apple’s, Google’s, and possibly Microsoft’s efforts in smartphone UIs (and, surprisingly to me, it reminds me most strongly of the latter).

But forget that geeky, specifications stuff. Look at the videography of this thing. Look at the choreography, for goodness sake: When did you see anyone, ever, dancing with delight at the thought of interacting with a BlackBerry? And no, don’t mention drunken stressed-out financial execs on the edge of a nervous breakdown…think of real people. Listen to the music too. RIM is quite definitely chasing a new market. The same tech-savvy younger, but fiscally assured people that tend to buy iPhones and Androids, we’d guess. To prove the point, check out this other older clip advertising the BlackBerry Bold.

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It’s dark, mysterious, graphically rich and there’s pictures of little kids in there, sure. But those city skyline images, and the tagline “as beautiful as it is powerful” unmistakably peg the Bold as a pretty serious device. Then there’s the BlackBerry Curve ad below.

This one, with its stylized brain graphic, emphasis on the power of the smartphone and the sleek design (erm…really?) seems to be targeting no particular audience at all, except perhaps the geekiest of business users.

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So, that leaves us with the new BB operating system, and an urge to jiggle our feet around on the dancefloor. Will RIM’s bold new strategy work? Will anyone ever think of BlackBerry’s as trendy gizmos, ripe to compete with the sleekest of Androids, or the new hotness of the iPhone for 2010?

To keep up with this news follow me, Kit Eaton, on Twitter. That QR code on the left will take your smartphone to my Twitter feed too. And if you really liked this story, you can re-Tweet too.

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About the author

I'm covering the science/tech/generally-exciting-and-innovative beat for Fast Company. Follow me on Twitter, or Google+ and you'll hear tons of interesting stuff, I promise. I've also got a PhD, and worked in such roles as professional scientist and theater technician...thankfully avoiding jobs like bodyguard and chicken shed-cleaner (bonus points if you get that reference!)

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