Social networks fuel device divide


TORONTO -- The social smartphone war between the BlackBerry and Apple's iPhone heated up Thursday on news that BlackBerry users will be able to wirelessly download the social networking site to their hip.

RIM founder and co-CEO Jim Balsillie told the Canadian Music Week conference in Toronto that the distribution deal with Dip Dive underlined a growing trend where social networking sites and traditional media content have converged on the Internet and digital devices.

"Architecturally, music and the social networking are going to merge," Balsillie told music industry executives. He cited the success of Dip Dive's song "Yes We Can" on YouTube that used celebrities to further Barack Obama's presidential campaign.

"So when you want music, do you want to buy hits or do you want to be part of a community? That's the big question," Balsillie said.

The exec said the BlackBerry has moved from its traditional status as a business tool to enabling on-the-go consumers access multimedia content via online social spaces.

"It's not just here's a cheaper way to buy songs. It's not just about buying songs. It's about community," Balsillie said.

He added that consumers will be more likely to get their news and content from subsets of social networking sites such as Dip Dive, Mocha Beta and LinkedIn, than traditional portals such as the BBC, Disney or ESPN.

Also at the Canadian Music Week on Thursday, veteran TV producer John Brunton (Canadian Idol) was inducted into the Canadian Music Industry Hall of Fame.

"I used to have a log cabin with a big cliff in front of it and would take my record player and blast Joni Mitchell across the water and it would echo back," Brunton said.

Brunton eventually did a music special with Joni Mitchell, in addition to programming on a host of other homegrown music talent during a 28-year career.