Canadian vendor Research In Motion (RIM) has been stepping up its presence in the mass market of late, focusing on applications that will help its BlackBerry device appeal to the mass market.

Following on from the launch of a Facebook application for its devices last week, the mobile email shop introduced the first music download service for the BlackBerry on Thursday.

The announcement was made at the launch of Vodafone’s mobile music launch in London, which, based on Omnifone’s Music Station, will see BlackBerry users on the Vodafone network able to download unlimited tracks to their devices for less than £8 per month.

But just round the corner at the BlackBerry Alliance Members conference, RIM’s Peter Heath, director of alliances,  told the audience that the BlackBerry was becoming more of a ‘prosumer’ device as more and more people realised it could be used for “more than just email”.

Heath revealed that RIM now has more than 10.5 million BlackBerry users and more than 700 partners developing applications for the device. At present, 78 per cent of RIM’s revenues come from hardware but 15 per cent come from services and that figure is set to grow with the increase in usage of more consumer apps like MMS and Instant Messaging.

On Thursday, RIM also made its BlackBerry Pear 8130 available to CDMA subscribers for the first time via Verizon’s network in the US.

But analysts warn that RIM is facing increasing competition in the business space as Microsoft gets its act together. Ovum analysts, Adam Leach and Jessica Figueras said that Microsoft’s announcement of support for Active Directory in the next release of Windows Mobile could be bad news for BlackBerry.

Windows Mobile 6.1 devices, due in the market around the middle of 2008, will also be manageable through a new server product, the System Center Mobile Device Manager 2008 (SCMDM). The offering will allow IT administrators to manage mobile devices in the same way that they manage other IT assets.

“Microsoft’s dominance in corporate office IT infrastructure has not yet translated to dominance within the fledgling market for corporate mobile IT infrastructure. That could change,” the analysts said.

“Microsoft may just have closed off much of the mobile opportunity in smaller SMEs, which accounts for most of the volume in the business device market. This is particularly bad news for RIM, whose ever-popular Blackberry has achieved significant market success through its attractiveness to IT buyers and administrators,” mainly through the Blackberry Enterprise server or BES, which offers device management features for Blackberry devices.

The move could also push RIM to be more defensive of its individual user community though. “RIM, too, has also had a story for individual business users ever since it started to sell Blackberry devices de-coupled from the BES, using other techniques including desktop redirection to enable mobile email. Informal research suggests that there is a significant pool of individuals taking this approach, who include freelance professionals and managers of very small companies. In these cases RIM still benefits from the sale of devices, which in any case make up the lion’s share of its revenues. If Microsoft makes it harder for RIM to be an enterprise solution provider, then it will need to maintain its share of the business device market by concentrating on attractiveness to individuals,” Ovum said.