Rival's frailty could prove fruitful for Apple

As frustrated BlackBerry users began to use the kind of language that turns the air purple, more than one wag observed how benevolent it was of RIM to honour the death of Steve Jobs by offering three days of silence. As one fruity mobile platform floundered, another fruity technology company continued to stamp itself on the public consciousness – almost despite the death of its founder – with this week's launch of both the iPhone4S, and the new iOS5 operating system for all of Apple's touchscreen devices.

Disappointment greeted the announcement of the 4S; industry observers had been hoping for something suffixed with a "5" and that brought with it more substantial innovations. But analysts are predicting that the new iPhone may shift as many as three million units over the weekend; this would make it not only the biggest launch in Apple history, but the biggest launch of any technology product ever. As a compulsion to upgrade seized Apple devotees across the world, queues were already forming at Apple's Regent Street store yesterday for tomorrow's launch. So much for it being a flop.

Seething BlackBerry customers may now be hungrily eyeing the iPhone, if they weren't already. The current iPhone model is already capable of delivering the push email that's so beloved of the business community, but it's the new iMessage service contained within iOS5 that really gives RIM a kicking. Clearly inspired by the teenager's favourite messaging service, BBM, iMessage bypasses the mobile networks' text messaging service to allow direct, free, encrypted text communication between iOS devices that doesn't count towards your monthly text bundle. And, crucially, it's not susceptible to the same frailties that are currently causing BlackBerry users such strife; iMessage seamlessly falls back to using SMS if it can't sneak the message out for free.

Of course, the iPhone comes with a hefty price tag and young people are unlikely to have access to the £499 needed to snap up the cheapest iPhone 4S tomorrow morning. But iMessage is the most significant attempt yet to deprive BlackBerry of its most renowned selling point.

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