Always tuned into the USPTO patent datbase, our buddy Russell discovered RIM's new Blackberry Patent application, entitled System and Method for Adaptive Theming of a Mobile Device. From the extract:
In the field of mobile devices, it is desirable to allow parties extraneous to a mobile device’s manufacturer the ability to theme the mobile device. It is also desirable to allow changes to the theme of the mobile device in order to reflect changes in the corporate identity or services offered by a vendor or carrier associated with the mobile device.
Herein provided are methods for the just in time theming of a mobile device. The methods allow for a mobile device to transmit identification information upon activation, receive user interface customization information in response to the transmitted identification information and to subsequently set the mobile device’s user interface to correspond with the received user interface customization information.
Also provided are methods for a server to receive identification information, provide the appropriate user interface customization information based on the received identification information and supply the user interface customization information by transmitting the information.
What's it all about? Basically RIM/Your Carrier/3rd Party Software Vendors would be able to remotely change your BlackBerry's device theme (most likely only when you ask them to). I think this patent is likely in response to one of the big problems with the BlackBerry right now - it's VERY easy to "nuke" your BlackBerry if you install a theme not designed for your device/operating system version.
Right now, you need to install themes manually - either OTA or via Desktop Manager. Not a difficult process, but if you don't verify which version of the BlackBerry OS you are running and check the compatibility of the version of the theme you are installing, there are no other safeguards in place before you potentially install the wrong theme. With this sort of system, the "server" will be able to identify your BlackBerry device details (model, OS) and should therefore ensure the compatible theme gets installed. Sounds great to me!