I’m a walking example of why Research In Motion cell phones have earned the nickname Crackberry, so I feel like Rodney Dangerfield after today’s Facebook Places announcement.
Today the company made it sound like the expansion of Places would include all mobile phones, and I really hoped that would include the Blackberry, especially with the announcement of mobile deals. Apparently, Facebook thinks Android is cooler than RIM.
I realize there’s a demographic explanation for this, based on the number of downloads to the various platforms. But I have to admit feeling a bit like the comedian famous for the line, “no respect,” because of the pattern in how Facebook prioritizes rollouts to mobile phones. The iPhone gets everything first, and then the Android comes next. The Blackberry seems like a second-class citizen by virtue of still being unable to access Places, let alone deals.
As recently as last month, RIM counted 50 million users of its phones, but apparently not enough of them are among the 200 million mobile users of Facebook. The social network might have more popularity among younger people who love the iPhone and Android platforms, but I see a pretty lucrative market waiting to be tapped: Blackberry’s popularity among the business crowd may have a lot of potential for deeper-pocketed Places and deals than the types of offers likely to appeal to iPhone and Android users. What iPhone can do for the Gap, the Blackberry can do for Brooks Brothers. Just because the social network doesn’t charge companies for deals now doesn’t mean that such fees won’t happen in the future.
An email from RIM’s media relations team responded to my question about Places: “while we cannot comment on speculation, we are constantly evolving our products based on customer feedback and need… Last week, a new version of Facebook for BlackBerry became available in BlackBerry Beta Zone… You must be a BlackBerry Beta Zone member to try out the new Facebook for BlackBerry app.” The URL for that is here.
Given how quickly Facebook adds new features and otherwise expands, it’s very possible that a deal with RIM is already on the drawing board. So count me among those who are eagerly awaiting Places for the CrackBerry, and don’t want to switch phone brands in order to get the functionality.