April 6, 2009

The U2/Blackberry-iPod Deal

From electronista.com.

U2 blames Apple for switch to BlackBerry

Apple's tendencies for tight control of its products ultimately drove U2 to abandon the company for sponsorship in favor of Research in Motion's BlackBerries, the music group's frontman Bono is now known to have said. In a recent conversation with Toronto DJ Alan Cross that was mentioned to the Globe and Mail, the artist revealed that U2 had approached Apple for designing products but had been rejected, leading the band to switch to RIM when it became clear it could have a more direct hand in final products.

"[RIM] is going to give us what Apple wouldn't -- access to their labs and their people so we can do something really spectacular," Bono said.

Neither RIM nor U2 has said specifically what will be involved in the collaboration beyond RIM helping to finance U2's latest tour, though it's reportedly "not far off" that custom software will be involved.

The news is a symbolic blow to Apple, which from 2004 through 2006 regularly sold U2 Edition iPods that had special colors and engravings as well as discounted or free downloads of U2 music and videos. U2 Edition sales stopped with the release of the first iPod classic, and the company's only immediate connections to U2 are its sales of (Product) Red iPod nano and shuffle models, which contribute to the anti-AIDS charity co-founded by Bono.

Since Steve Jobs' return to Apple as CEO, his company has typically refused to outsource or otherwise collaborate on hardware or software design with outside parties, instead preferring to acquire companies or otherwise keep designs to itself. RIM largely controls its own designs as well but has often relinquished some authority to other firms, such as its willingness to let carriers customize their firmware and the software offered on BlackBerry App World.

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