BlackBerry looks beyond business with entertainment push

Business has always been BlackBerry’s bread and butter. But the company formerly known as Research In Motion up until Wednesday morning has put a new emphasis on entertainment with its BlackBerry 10 operating system.

The BlackBerry World app store, which went live just ahead of BlackBerry 10’s launch on Wednesday, opens its virtual doors with more than 70,000 applications. Big names such as Skype, Twitter, Whatsapp, WebEx, SAP, and others are already available to BlackBerry users.

At its Wednesday press event, BlackBerry said that more than 1000 top apps have committed to BlackBerry 10.

BlackBerry apparently recognizes that a fully realized app store is required to win over devoted Android and iOS users. Its music and movie offerings, while not as extensive as what its competitors can boast, are still plentiful. Prices are competitive, ranging from 99 cents to $1.49 for a song and from $8.99 to $11.99 for a popular album. By way of comparison, individual songs at Apple’s iTunes store range from 99 cents to $1.29 (with some tracks available for less).

BlackBerry also partnered with eight major movie studios and the large TV networks to offer a wide selection of streaming content.

To highlight its commitment to content, BlackBerry called on singer-songwriter Alicia Keys. She’s now a global creative director of the company. BlackBerry is working with Keys, film director Robert Rodriguez, and author Neil Gaiman to showcase how its new phones, the Z10 and Q10, can be used to create content.

“I’m going to work with people in the entertainment and music business to inspire creative projects,” Keys said during BB10’s Tuesday launch event in New York City.

BlackBerry’s Keep Moving Projects, featuring Rodriguez, Gaiman, and Keys, will follow the artists as they use the new BlackBerry phones. Rodriguez plans to collaborate with fans on a filmmaking project, Gaiman is using BlackBerry to connect with readers and create art, and Keys will be shooting music videos on her smartphone in each city she plays on her upcoming “Set the World on Fire” tour.

Keys said she’s even shooting with her BlackBerry at the Super Bowl this Sunday in New Orleans.

The singer is apart of the high-powered, professional demographic that BlackBerry once monopolized but lost to better, sleeker rivals. “I was in a long-term relationship with BlackBerry, and then I started to notice some new, hotter, sexier phones at the gym,” Keys said at the launch. “I broke up with you for something that had a little more bling.”

BlackBerry 10 brought her back, but it remains to be seen if the company can woo average Joes and Janes, too.

For comprehensive coverage of the Android ecosystem, visit Greenbot.com.

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