**As published in digiday:DAILY** Publisher: Research In Motion Ltd. Price: free Platform: BlackBerry Advertising: None Functionality: A Fun Factor: B+ Overall: A- For years now, BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion Ltd. has been noticeably behind in the mobile entertainment space. Competitor after competitor has leapfrogged the smart phone giant with media offerings that are more in line with what consumers expect online. RIM may be systematically late to the party, but at least it doesn’t flake out entirely.
The latest slow pitch from RIM comes in the form of BlackBerry Podcasts. Podcasts have been on the scene since the late 90s (the term was later coined in 2004), so it’s remarkable how long RIM has taken to embrace the medium, but it finally has. Along with its latest operating system, BlackBerry 6, and a new flagship device in the 9800, or Torch, RIM has been pushing out a series of new add-on apps that serve to improve the overall user experience and extend that special BlackBerry flavor. BlackBerry Podcasts finally gives BlackBerry users a simple way to subscribe to and manage their entire podcast lineup. I’m disappointed to report that BlackBerry Podcasts suffers from some of the same problems as BlackBerry App World &mash; a general lack of depth and discoverability. Users will quickly find that the podcasts featured in the app are few and far between. There were plenty of worthwhile podcasts that I subscribed to, but I wanted so much more. For example, I found and subscribed to KCRW’s “To the Point” podcast, but the broadcaster’s incredible selection of other podcasts were nowhere to be found. Thankfully, like any good podcast app this app lets users enter the direct URL to their favorite podcasts and they can subscribe directly. Still, RIM should be doing more legwork on the content front and work to expand its directory of podcasts, which would only serve to increase the value proposition for the app overall. I imagine that many users will get turned off from the app after failing to find the type of content they enjoy, and that’s the last thing RIM needs nowadays. Beyond that major content oversight, BlackBerry Podcasts is a simple, easy to use and efficient app. The interface is clean and playback is smooth. Users can set podcasts to automatically download via Wi-Fi only or a cellular connection as well. If RIM puts a higher priority on helping users find the content they want, BlackBerry Podcasts could go a long way toward putting BlackBerry devices closer to all the fun and excitement in mobile entertainment, specifically video and audio.