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BlackBerries get their (3D) game on

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RIM has announced a series of initiatives targeted at helping developers bring 3D games to the BlackBerry, assist content creators using Adobe apps, and - not coincidentally - help developers fatten their revenue streams.

A trio of announcements were released Monday at the BlackBerry Developer Conference in San Francisco. The first details RIM's new support of OpenGL ES for 3D games and graphics, introduces an upcoming GUI builder for the BlackBerry Java Plug-in scheduled for a mid-2010 release, and announces the availability of the free BlackBerry Theme Studio suite of theme design, illustration, and animation tools.

The second announcement outlines a deeper collaboration with Adobe Systems aimed at better enabling users of that company's Flash Platform and Creative Suite content-development apps to create rich content for BlackBerries.

The third introduces what RIM calls "a new services platform" for BlackBerry developers to more easily include ads along with their content, allow for in-app purchases as does the iPhone for both free and paid apps, and avail themselves of new push and location services.

Taken together, Monday's announcements mark a concerted effort by RIM to move beyond its traditional business bailiwick and into the broader consumer smartphone marketplace that's increasingly dominated by Apple's iPhone and more recently invaded by such Google Android–based phones as the Motorola Droid and the HTC Hero.

Take the announcement of OpenGL ES support, for example. Although a RIM spokesperson tells The Reg that the announced support will be for the OpenGL ES 1.X version of that graphics-enhancing open standard, and not the more-programmable OpenGL ES 2.X standard, its addition to BlackBerry OS 5.0 and higher is an admission by RIM that smartphones are used not merely for email and other business-oriented necessities, but also for games and other consumer-oriented niceties.

Support for OpenGL ES will be provided in an update of the BlackBerry Java SDK v5.0, a beta version of which is available for download here.

The enhanced Adobe collaboration, plus the new GUI Builder and BlackBerry Theme Studio, also point to RIM's desire to juice the provision of richer, more eye-candyesque content for the BlackBerry. For example, beginning with Adobe Creative Suite 5, content created in Photoshop, Illustrator, and After Effects will be - in the words of the announcement - "easily imported" into such development tools as RIM's Java and Web plug-ins for for the open source Eclipse development environment.

Also, Adobe Dreamweaver, Fireworks, and Device Central software will support the BlackBerry Widget SDK, with content optimized for the BlackBerry browser. Users will be directly targeted with an enhanced ability to export photos and videos shot using BlackBerries directly into Photoshop Elements and Photoshop.com.

And then there's the promise of Flash support for the Blackberry. Whether you love Flash for its ubiquity and capabilities or hate it for its alleged bloat, support for that popular web graphics and video standard puts RIM - and Android - one checkbox item ahead of Apple's iPhone.

As the smartphone wars heat up, it appears that RIM is not content to sell its wares merely into the boardroom, but is also now actively trolling for customers in the family room and game room, as well. ®

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