So, it’s now official: U2’s world tour will be presented by BlackBerry. While the smartphone giant has made past and current strides into the music realm (you’ll see them at SXSW next week), this is a major development because this will be a major global stadium tour by one of the world’s biggest bands. No idea what this means for the U2 relationship with Apple, which has been a major part of the band’s marketing and distribution efforts over the last decade. Apple even released a customized U2 iPod, the rare time they’ve created an artist-specific product. This shouldn’t have any effect on iTunes, where U2’s new album has been the top-selling LP since its release last week. But it sends an odd message because of Apple’s own competition with the BlackBerry in the smartphone industry: the iPhone. Plus, what does this mean for BlackBerry and its future plans for entertainment retail?
The number of viable smartphone players is rather small, and this announcement highlights just how complicated the smartphone race has become. Not only does U2 now have ties to both the BlackBerry and the iPhone, but as CNBC’s Jim Goldman points out, U2 frontman Bono is also part of an investment firm that owns a 39% stake in Palm. And, for those who don’t keep up with the tech blogs and columns, the once mighty Palm is prepping a comeback with an iPhone-like smartphone called the Pre. For the sake of argument, I’m gonna assume Bono carries all three smartphones on his person round-the-clock. After all, you never know when that T-Mobile Sidekick call might come in.