"We never created BlackBerry to lock in the devices," said [RIM co-chief executive] Mr. Balsillie in a phone interview. "If we can't earn our merit on the device side, we will lose the device side."
RIM still dominates the market for U.S. wireless email devices, with 45% of all U.S. smartphone operating-system shipments in the fourth quarter, according to market researcher IDC. Windows Mobile now holds 38% of the market.
"RIM is looking at the reality out there," says Carrie MacGillivray, an analyst at IDC, who says the new application should help them reach more customers, including customers who want to upgrade older devices. "It shows that they can be flexible."