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Our look at some of the big stories today in mobile. Today, RIM (NSDQ: RIMM) preloads 7digital on the PlayBook; Nokia’s still happy with Symbian; Foursquare gets an update; and a new iPad “social magazine” launches to compete with Flipboard: Zite.
— RIM/7digital: We still don’t have a definitive launch date for the PlayBook, but in the meantime RIM keeps adding news and features that it hopes will sustain interest in its new tablet in the midst of launches from Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) and many Android makers. Today, we learn that it will be pre-loading the 7digital music service on to the device.
This is an extension an existing 7digital relationship that started with the BlackBerry, where, in October 2009, 7digital became the first major music app in RIM’s app store and pitched itself as BlackBerry’s answer to iTunes. Since then the service has integrated with music discover service Last.fm and added other features.
While RIM has seemed to be in two minds about whether the PlayBook is more of an “enterprise” product or a “consumer” one, this deal reaffirms its intention to give a strong showing in the latter category. The 7digital Music Store on the PlayBook will feature a catalog of 13 million MP3 that users can browse, preview and purchase, and tracks will be priced at the same levels as the existing 7digital store.
— Nokia/Symbian: With all the Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) news, everyone seems to be reading last rites for Symbian these days. But — particularly on its strength in emerging markets — it’s still a market-leading platform, and Nokia (NYSE: NOK) today reaffirmed its commitment to it for the long haul.
In a speech at a technology conference put on by UBS (covered by Reuters), the CFO of the handset maker, Timo Ihamuotila said Nokia “will of course utilise the long-tail of Symbian as long as it gives us profitable margin.” He also confirmed that the deal with Microsoft has yet to be signed.
— Foursquare: Leading up to the big SXSWi confab in Austin, Texas, last year’s social media darling has released a new version of its check-in app. Foursquare 3.0, which is now live on Android and iPhone (with updates to other platforms coming later), gives the app a lot more functionality and the possibility of integrating it more with what a person does throughout the day, rather than a single-dimensional check-in capability.
It also puts it in more direct competition with the likes of Yelp and Groupon; and starts to look more like a grown-up business model for the service.
Among the new features are an “Explore” tab, which offers recommendations to a user based on location and what you are searching for (eg a coffee house or bar). The “Leaderboard” that tracks how many check-ins you and friends have made has also been enhanced, to include different categories, and tracking different kinds of activities such as trying out new restaurants. Finally, Foursquare is enhancing the types of loyalty offers that businesses can push to customers who check-in, based on groups, first-time visitors, “Mayors” (most frequent visitors), and everyone. Foursquare now has 7.5 million users and 250,000 registered businesses on its service.
— Zite: A new Flipboard competitor has launched on the iPad. The Zite app — a nice play on Zeitgeist, perhaps — uses a combination of your browsing history, your own viewing patterns within the app, and either your Twitter or Google (NSDQ: GOOG) Reader feed, to create mashed-up magazine of content that it believes you would find interesting. It claims to get “smarter” the more it’s used; and in what might be a smart first move, it’s free of charge to use.