BlackBerry Media Sync Brings iTunes Music to RIM Smartphones
BlackBerry users can now easily sync music from iTunes libraries with their smartphones' media players thanks to a new, free piece of software from Research In Motion (RIM), aptly named BlackBerry Media Sync.
By Al Sacco
Managing Editor, CIO
For years Apple’s iPod and iTunes Store have been the world’s most popular digital media player and online music retailer combination, but if Research In Motion (RIM), maker of the BlackBerry smartphone and Apple’s number-one iPhone competitor, has its way, that may soon begin to change. On Wednesday, RIM quietly released a new piece of software that enables iTunes users to sync their DRM-free music files with their BlackBerry media players.
The introduction of BlackBerry Media Sync represents RIM’s latest foray into the consumer realm, and its most recent attempt to level the playing field in that space between its BlackBerry and Apple’s iPhone.
Syncing music from iTunes libraries using the new BlackBerry Media Sync software is simple, though the program only transfers files in wav, mp3, aac, and m4a formats and without any digital right management (DRM) protection. The vast majority of songs purchased through the iTunes store are protected by Apple’s FairPlay DRM, though some tracks are available without it for $1.29–$0.30 more than FairPlay-protected files. For iTunes files without DRM, BlackBerry Media Sync also transfers any associated album artwork. Songs imported into iTunes from any source without DRM, a store-bought CD for instance, can be synced to BlackBerrys using the new software.
BlackBerry owners have already been able to sync music from their iTunes library with their smartphones, but the process involved digging through various folders with the Roxio Media Manager that’s part of RIM’s BlackBerry Desktop Manager software. BlackBerry Media Sync simplifies that process and allows users to transfer specific iTunes playlists or collections of songs to their devices instead of only individual files.
Currently, RIM is the number one smartphone manufacturer in the United States based on sales, with 44.5 percent of the market in first quarter of 2008, followed by Apple (19.2 percent) and struggling handset maker Palm (13.4), according to research firm IDC (a sister company to CIO.com’s publisher). It’s worth noting, however, that those numbers can be deceptive, as RIM offers a much larger lineup of devices than Apple, and the iPhone 3G had not been released when IDC collected its numbers.
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Al Sacco was a journalist, blogger and editor who covers the fast-paced mobile beat for CIO.com and IDG Enterprise, with a focus on wearable tech, smartphones and tablet PCs. Al managed CIO.com writers and contributors, covered news, and shared insightful expert analysis of key industry happenings. He also wrote a wide variety of tutorials and how-tos to help readers get the most out of their gadgets, and regularly offered up recommendations on software for a number of mobile platforms. Al resides in Boston and is a passionate reader, traveler, beer lover, film buff and Red Sox fan.