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BlackBerry redoubles iPhone challenge

'Cracks the uncrackable'

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CTIA Wireless As part of its ongoing effort to reinvent the BlackBerry as an iPhone-battling consumer-friendly handheld, Research in Motion has announced a bevy of new after hours services for its corporate email baby.

A year after his other half announced a new Facebook app for the BlackBerry, co-RIM CEO Jim Balsillie turned up at the CTIA Wireless IT and Entertainment trade show this morning to announce, yes, MySpace for the BlackBerry.

"We are very excited to announce a very special relationship with MySpace available on BlackBerry," Balsille said, during a long, rambling speech about how great his handheld is. "You now have this rich connection [to MySpace]. There's message notification. You can browse photos and share them. You've got status and mood on the go. You can view profiles, read messages, and post comments."

Certain people love this sort of thing. According to the co-CEO, Facebook is the fastest growing Blackberry app ever, with over 2.5m downloads since its launch at this same trade show last fall.

Balsille also unveiled a TiVo app that lets you schedule TV recordings from your BlackBerry, a Ticketmaster app that lets you buy concert and event tickets, a music app from internet radio outfit Slacker, and the BlackBerrization of search engine also-ran Microsoft Live Search.

These announcements came a day after RIM trumpeted three new BlackBerry models, including the first BlackBerry flip phone, due to reach the market this fall.

"I think we've cracked the code of the smartphone flip," Balsillie said this morning. "It was considered uncrackable before."

Yesterday, the company also announced that the BlackBerry has finally embraced AIM and ICQ instant messaging clients. That means the platform now supports all five of the major IM networks. ®

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