updated 12:40 am EDT, Mon May 12, 2008
RIM BlackBerry Fund
Research in Motion early Monday confirmed rumors with the launch of the BlackBerry Partners Fund, a venture capital pool meant to rival the iFund for the iPhone. The $150 million pool eclipses the $100 million for the Apple device but shares the same goal of spurring growth in app development: promising young companies at any stage of development for their BlackBerry software can apply for capital to help their apps reach completion.
The fund is necessary because cellphones have "evolved well beyond phone calls and simple messaging," according to RIM co-chief Jim Balsillie.
Unlike the Apple-backed fund, however, the financial support won't be handed out solely to BlackBerry developers and can be used for apps and services also written for "other mobile platforms," according to RIM. The Waterloo, Ontario-based company doesn't say whether it will fund companies without any BlackBerry apps in progress, but notes that a company's existing budget also won't be an immediate concern.
The fund will be supported by Canadian bank RBC as well as Thomson Reuters and venture capital firm JLA Ventures. No announcement has been made as to when the BlackBerry Partners Fund will be active.
RIM's move escalates a growing rivalry between itself and Apple, the two of which now are considered the primary competitors in the US for smartphone marketshare and which still have relatively young third-party app platforms. The Canadian company tonight stepped up its competition with the iPhone through the unveiling of the BlackBerry Bold, its first truly 3G phone as well as the first to offer a more complete web browser, GPS, and Wi-Fi in one handset.