BlackBerry's Biggest Problem

Roughly 10 months after it debuted on the iPhone, Research In Motion's (Nasdaq: RIMM  ) BlackBerry is getting Foursquare.

For those who don't know, Foursquare is a privately held company founded by some of the coders who sold Dodgeball to Google (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) in 2005, which shut it down a year ago. Users of Foursquare connect by sharing where they are, and accumulate points in the process.

"What we wanted to do is turn life into a video game," co-founder Dennis Crowley said in announcing the service at a tech meetup in New York last year. "You should be rewarded for going out more times than your friends, and hanging out with new people and going to new restaurants and going to new bars -- just experiencing things that you wouldn't normally do."

Foursquare matters not just because it's getting popular -- though at an estimated 250,000 users, it's tracking well -- but because mobile users tend to embrace social networking tools. The latest research from the Pew Internet Project found that 54% of Internet users were connected via some sort of mobile device, and of those 25% use Twitter or a similar network. That's up from 14% in December of 2008.

If you're Research In Motion, you want developers of up-and-coming social apps like Foursquare to create code for your platform right away. You don't want to be in line behind Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) iPhone and Google's Android.

So what if RIM is ahead of Nokia's (NYSE: NOK  ) Symbian, and Microsoft's (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) Windows Mobile in getting Foursquare? With due respect, these aren't the platforms that matter. These aren't the data consumers.

Then again, neither is the BlackBerry. According to recent research from Validas, iPhones consume five times as much data as BlackBerrys, when measured in megabytes.

Maybe the ratio will change now that the BlackBerry is getting Foursquare and other social apps. Maybe, but I'm not optimistic. Developers don't change easily. Windows still gets more care and feeding from coders than does the Mac, and developers have already shown a preference for the iPhone.

Now it's your turn to weigh in. Do you think developers will learn to love the BlackBerry again? Or has the iPhone permanently changed the equation? Make your voice heard using the comments box below.

Apple is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor selection. Google is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendation. Microsoft and Nokia are Motley Fool Inside Value picks. Motley Fool Options recommended diagonal calls on Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

Fool contributor Tim Beyers is a Foursquare Superuser. (Seriously.) He had stock and options positions in Apple and a stock position in Google at the time of publication. Check out Tim's portfolio holdings and Foolish writings, or connect with him on Twitter as @milehighfool. The Motley Fool is also on Twitter as @TheMotleyFool. The Fool's disclosure policy is a huge fan of Espn 8 -- the Ocho.


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Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On January 23, 2010, at 8:38 AM, mikerookie wrote:

    Hi Tim

    I appreciate your comments and I agree obviously RIM would like to launch apps at the same time that they come out for iPhone and I expect RIM will be working extremely hard this year to do so..

    My issue comes with your statement

    "...These aren't the data consumers. Then again, neither is the BlackBerry. According to recent research from Validas, iPhones consume five times as much data as BlackBerrys, when measured in megabytes."

    This is a very poor comparison or measure of data consumption. RIM's platform is well known to use significantly less data than iPhone or any other smartphone for that matter. This is the single most overlooked advantage of BlackBerry. Do you want to see smartphones abusing the networks they run on? Do you think this is a good thing?

    Just look at all the complaints about AT&T's network. Network resources are not limitless and neither is network bandwidth. But there is more than that, you need to backhaul all that data which can be extremely costly to the carriers. These are concerns that are only starting to become visible but I expect this to become the number 1 concern for wireless operators in the future.

    Thanks

    Mike

  • Report this Comment On January 24, 2010, at 9:40 AM, mikerookie wrote:

    You make these comments but with nothing to back up your claims. I thought fool.com is an investing site yet the fanboyz still find the need to post.. :(

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