While RIM might be desperate for new markets, apparently it has decided that London rioters are not the sort of types it wants to push its smartphones.
Local media has been claiming that, like in Egypt, Twitter and Blackberry IMs are how the rioters are co-ordinating their activies. Unfortunately, unlike Egypt we are not ruled by an aristocratic government out of touch with the needs of the people, so the rioters are not “freedom fighters” but thugs.
According to the Guardian this important distinction is why RIM says that it will “engage with the authorities to assist in any way it can”.
Unfortunately for the rioters there is only one way that RIM can do that. It will provide the cops with decrypted messages from its servers and identify the callers.
While you might think that your average rioter would not be a BlackBerry fan, Ofcom, the independent regulator and competition authority for the UK communications industries, says that 37 percent of teenagers in the UK cite the BlackBerry as their main device for communication. So in a riot made up mostly of that demographic, more than a third will be armed with a BlackBerry.
RIM is trying to make sure that it acts before the UK police ask it. In countries with authoritarian governments there have been moves to ban the BlackBerry unless RIM hands over unencrypted messages. The last thing that RIM wants is for a similar row to happen in Blighty.
Unfortunately for RI<, snitching to the rozzers is seen amongst the young as a greater crime than rioting. It is fairly likely that we will see teens dump their BlackBerries in favour of something that does not hand their messages over to the coppers.
Certainly looking at Twitter, RIM’s fanbase does not seem impressed. With lots of “b!tchA$” and other colourful phrases.