U2 Trades Apple for RIM with 360 Degrees Tour

Dennis Faas's picture

It's "A Beautiful Day" for Research in Motion (RIM), the BlackBerry maker which recently pried rock/pop superstars U2 from the clenched fists of competitor Apple. The band, which has been with Apple since 2004, will partner with RIM to promote its upcoming U2 360 Degrees Tour.

It was almost five years ago now that world-renowned U2 lead singer Bono and guitarist The Edge stood next to Apple's ubiquitous Steve Jobs in order to promote the tech company's Special Edition U2 iPod. At the time, Apple, U2, and studio Universal Music Group (UMG) promised the triumvirate would deliver "innovative products... for the new digital music era." It's safe to say that the iPod has continued to be a success since U2 jumped aboard, and a pretty nifty Special Edition U2 iPod with band member signatures probably didn't hurt, either. (Source: appleinsider.com)

At first, the relationship appeared to be a match made in heaven. Bono even went so far as to say that a link with digital music leader Apple would help the band foster "a more intimate online relationship" with their fans.

Nevertheless, by 2007, the honeymoon was clearly over. First to complain was Universal Music Group, which felt that it had become too dependent on Apple's iTunes store, which has in years since introduced controversial pricing and copyright reforms. Most of these have made consumers happy, but evidently not UMG.

And so, enter a simplified, "streamlined," if you will, relationship with BlackBerry maker Research in Motion. Much of the language sounds the same as that thrown about back in 2004, as you can tell from a recent statement made by band manager Paul McGuinness: "This tour announcement marks the first stage of a relationship and shared vision between RIM and U2 that we expect will lead to new and innovative ways to enhance the mobile music experience on the BlackBerry platform for U2 fans." (Source: electronista.com)

RIM and the BlackBerry will now take center stage for U2's upcoming tour across Europe, including visits to fourteen cities. The Waterloo-based company and its very popular handheld device will now act as the major sponsor for this, the U2 360 Degrees Tour. The band is due back in North American next September.

CNBC analyst Jim Goldman has thrown cool water on what might otherwise have been considered a fiery break up. "I think this deal says a lot more about U2's commercialism and partnership with Live Nation than it does about the future of iPod and Apple's ongoing influence in the music industry," Goldman said.

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