RIM’s talk at RBC Technology, Media and Communications Conference

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RBC and RIM logos

So, we listened in on the talk from Edel Ebbs, RIM’s VP of Investor Relations at the RBC Technology, Media and Communications Conference today, and she had a few interesting things to say regarding the expanding consumer segment, the importance of fixed-mobile convergence, and future drivers for growth. The majority of sales still rely on hardware, but software and services revenue definitely helps. Edel went on to talk about RIM’s growing branding strategy, which we can see today in their latest advertisements showing off the BlackBerry device as an all-encompassing lifestyle choice, and is just the beginning of a bigger push in the last half of the year. That’s of course a good segue way into their consumer push…

If you’d like to hear the conference talk for yourself, head on over to RIM’s investor relations site

A solid 60% of activations last quarter were non-enterprise, and that number is steadily growing. It’s cool to see RIM expanding, I’m still curious to know how much of that majority is small and medium businesses running on BIS and how much are full-blown pro/consumers. Facebook and Handango got some shoutouts, and prompted Edel to talk about the importance of third parties to expand and take advantage of the BlackBerry platform – Documents to Go with the BlackBerry Bold was a solid example.

OS 4.6 and the improvements made in the BlackBerry 9000 also came up – namely the new browsing experience and the recently-released Media Sync. She used the iTunes Media Sync as an example of how BlackBerry was attempting to become an enabler; a platform which connected to the established systems that are already set up in your life. Facebook obviously fits into that category, but even core functions like Outlook syncing really show how that philosophy hits home.

Of course the enterprise segment wasn’t totally trumped by consumer stuff during the talk. The Mobile Voice System was a big focus, as companies are aiming to have their workforces mobile but still hooked into the PBX. Edel closed up with going over some of the main forces that will keep RIM going over the next year.

-Carrier-focused model
-3rd. party distribution
-New markets
-New products (both hardware and software), with a strong development cycle
-Continued R&D investment
-Exploiting fixed-mobile convergence

The Q&A segment had a few good points. Obvisouly the iPhone came up, and Edel assessed that the smartphone market had widened considerably over the last couple of years and as a result segmented. She admitted openly that there were some segments that RIM was aiming to address. Speaking of iPhone, the comment came up about carrier subsidies and whether or not the lowered iPhone price was going to drive down that of BlackBerrys. Sadly, it sounded like RIM has found their sweet spot, and won’t be starting a discount war anytime soon.

Developer relations were also an issue, and Edel harped on the BlackBerry Partners Fund as well as their solid Indepdent Software Vendor program as cornerstones of supporting outside development. Finally, someone asked about Android and how it fit into RIM’s strategy, and in the end, there’s so little known about it, that it’s really hard to say at this point.

All-in-all, it was a pretty rosy talk that dealt mainly in broad strokes, but obviously that’s the game you play when you’re talking to investors.