Facebook and Research In Motion have announced a new native Facebook application for BlackBerry devices, melding together Facebook updates and notifications with the BlackBerry’s push functionality. Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz brought RIM (NSDQ: RIMM) Co-CEO Mike Lazaridis out on stage in his keynote at the CTIA show today to show off the new app, which lets users get their news feed and other notifications pushed directly to their mobile device. Users can create separate notification noises and alerts for Facebook updates and emails, while Facebook services are also integrated into other parts of the device. For instance, in the camera application, users can tag photos on the device and upload them directly to their Facebook account. T-Mobile will be the first operator to offer the application embedded in the BlackBerry devices it sells, but Moskovitz said it will be available for download to any BlackBerry user later today.
This is just the latest move in RIM’s strategy to capture a bigger chunk of the consumer market. While certainly there’s a growing number of business users on Facebook, this move is really about RIM getting more consumers to buy its devices and push email service. While Facebook has a number of other mobile offerings, including SMS alerts and mobile web and iPhone-optimized sites, the BlackBerry application appears to offer a significantly improved user experience, and could prove very attractive to younger users and the general public.
New mobile web features: In addition to the BlackBerry app, Moskovitz also announced a couple of enhancements to Facebook’s mobile site. Applications built on the Facebook platform will now be able to work on the mobile version, while apps will also be able to use SMS services through Facebook.
Open, open, open: “Open” has been the buzzword of choice for the CTIA show, and Moskovitz stuck to the script by saying Facebook owed its success to openness, both in terms of its membership and its platform, and that “the future of [the mobile] industry is inevitably more open than its past.” He said he expects the mobile industry to be disrupted in 2008 by two companies and their “open” ambitions: Apple’s (NSDQ: AAPL) release of the iPhone SDK, which will enable third-party application development, and Google’s (NSDQ: GOOG) long-rumored entry into the mobile market.
Volume: Operators and off-deck content providers are telling two very different stories about whether or not there’s enough volume to create a sufficient inventory for mobile advertising. Operators contend that there isn’t, but a lot of content providers say otherwise. Moskovitz tossed in Facebook’s two cents by saying it expects to deliver 300m mobile page views this month. That’s still peanuts compared to the 50 billion-plus page views its web version gets every month, but it’s nothing to be sniffed at.
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