Back in March, I cornered Bono at a meet’n’greet in Boston after the last of those promo tour shows. With the Research in Motion sponsorship of the upcoming world tour just days old, I asked him about the switch in allegiance from Apple to Blackberry. After the U2 iPod, the commercials and the iTunes deals, why bail on Cupertino for Kitchener-Waterloo?
Bono was clear: “Because RIM is going to give us what Apple wouldn’t; access to their labs and their people.”
This was the first time anywhere I had heard such a thing. Did I just get a worldwide scoop? Knowing that I only had about fifteen seconds before he was whisked away, I had to get in a follow-up question.
I blurted the only thing that came to mind: “I can imagine Blackberry creating an app that fans could have on their devices which could then be used when they go to a show on this tour. Maybe some kind of grand social networking thing for U2 fans.”
Bono paused, smiled slyly and said “Something like that.” And then he was gone.
I Facebooked this immediately and eventually, this little scoop took a life of its own when the Globe and Mail’s Report on Business used it as part of a feature story on the RIM-U2 deal. For about ten days, I ended up in newspapers, on music sites and on tech blogs around the world.
And it turns out that my panicked question was more prescient that I could have guessed.
RIM’s people have come up with something called the “U2 Mobile Album.” It’s a Blackberry app that seems to have five sections. First, there’s the entire No Line on the Horizon album. Then there’s a news section about the band, followed by a place that gives updates on the U2:360 tour. There’s a gallery—for fan-posted pictures, presumably. A nice social networking touch, but hardly groundbreaking. Flickr, anyone?
But then there’s a section called “Who’s Listening.” From what I can tell, Blackberry users will load this app before they go to a show. Once there, they’ll be able to access a colour-coded map of that venue which shows your real-time location relative to the band, your friends and everyone else in the stadium running this app.
Although the tour started this week in Spain, doesn’t seem to have been deployed yet. It could be that RIM is waiting for the release of their new world phone called—wait for it—the Blackberry Tour 9630, which is supposed to be available as of July 12.
If you would like a teaser of what this app may have to offer, go here.
Meanwhile, a TV commercial called “Blackberry Loves U2” has started running.