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How RIM Is Sexing Itself Up

With its future looking less certain than ever, Research in Motion is reportedly adding a music service to BlackBerry Messenger.

Noting that RIM certainly "needs to sex itself up," CNet reports that the smartphone maker is in talks with the four top record companies about the IM-based service.

"RIM has signed a deal with at least one ... and is close to signing at least two others," CNet confirms, adding that a test version of the service could debut within weeks.

Critics, however, say a music service is the last thing RIM needs to regain its once-dominant market position. "Look, we get it RIM -- your BBM service is great," writes Gizmodo. "But a music-streaming service that runs in BBM? WTF?"

Calling the plan "ambitious," a more open-minded Los Angles Times writes: "If true, it could give RIM a service to compete with Apple's iTunes and Google Music."

Not quite, sources tell The Wall Street Journal. "The new service isn't intended to compete directly with Apple Inc.'s iTunes or music service Spotify," it writes. "Instead, the BlackBerry service is supposed to help younger users 'customize' their phones and share their songs with friends."

Still, The Journal adds, "Even if RIM's new music offering doesn't compete directly with Spotify or iTunes, it could help the company's BlackBerry smartphones compete against Apple's iPhone and phones using Google Inc.'s Android operating system."

Bigger picture, RIM has been losing market share to Apple's iPhone and phones running on Google's Android OS for over a year.

Indeed, "The company's share of the global smartphone market fell to 12 percent in the second quarter from 19 percent a year earlier," notes Bloomberg, citing Gartner data. "Over the same period, Apple climbed to 18 percent from 14 percent, and devices based on Google's Android gained rose to 43 percent of the market."

Yet, "Because the majority of RIM's following comes from the enterprise, we have to wonder how much a music service ... will cure its market share woes," ars technica writes.

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