Blackberry maker Research in Motion (RIMM), which reports earnings after the close of trading today, took a significant step toward reaching mass market appeal today by announcing a deal with Yahoo (YHOO) to integrate Yahoo’s recently announced Go service into RIM handhelds. With the click of a button, users will be able to access Yahoo Mail, search and IM.
The key breakthrough here is the lowering of the cost of use for a prospective new RIM customer. Today, besides springing for the handset and Blackberry Internet Service (about $50), a non-business customer must find a compatible email server. As Om Malik explains:
So far only the users of email systems based on Microsoft Exchange & Lotus Notes have been able to sign-on for the Blackberry service. This is expensive proposition, costing between $10-to-$30 a month, depending on your needs.
Chris Lewis of analyst group Ovum told ZDNet UK:
The challenge for BlackBerry is to expand its appeal and the solution that they’ve offered to the executive market to date has done well, but they do need to get a lot more services onto the device. The whole development of more applications on more mobile devices is where the end-user wants to see things go.
This is the latest -- and most significant -- deal RIM has struck recently with search/portal giants Yahoo and Google (NASDAQ:GOOG). Earlier this year RIM announced it will preinstall Yahoo Messenger software on BlackBerries devices and offer Yahoo-based search. And just last month RIM said it would support Google Talk IM on its devices.
But the instant 'push-mail' experience remains the greatest appeal of Blackberries, with Palm (PALM) and Motorola (MOT) turning out handsets that rival, if not exceed, the appealing design of RIM's devices.
With the lowering of the barrier for consumers to access Blackberry-based email, the company may just have ensured a whole new wave of Crackberry addicts. The service will begin with T-Mobile in the US, then roll out to over 160 carriers in 60 countries worldwide.
It will be interesting to see if RIM execs comment on this deal in the conference call following earnings tonight -- check back here for the full transcript of the call from Seeking Alpha.
RIM has jumped about 20% since its lawsuit with NTP was settled in early March.
RIMM 1-yr chart: