RIM Files for New Patent - Advertising in Emails the Next Step?

By Adam Zeis on 22 Feb 2010 01:25 pm EST

RIM patent 

In the latest patent application from RIM, it looks like they may be heading towards some sort of advertising in emails. Their submission to the patent office, "system and method for incorporating multimedia content into a message handeld by a mobile device", essentially allows for the device to match keywords and phrases in messages to bring you ads. As the application states:

This (advertising) may be done by examining content in the message handled by a mobile device and matching portions of the message with predetermined criteria such as keywords or phrases. Upon finding matches, corresponding multimedia content is associated with a respective portion of the message content and access to the multimedia content is enabled through selection of a linking mechanism that is visually identifiable with the respective portion of the message. The message is modified to include such linking mechanisms such that upon viewing the modified message, a user may reveal the multimedia content by selecting the linking mechanism. It has also been recognized that multiple layers of multimedia content can be provided such that different types of user interaction can reveal different forms of multimedia content. 

RIM has also filed for a patent that will allow them to see if any devs are trying to circumvent the new email ads. Now don't go crazy - there is no word of if/when any of this will be implemented. RIM applies for hundreds of patents whose applications never see the light of day, so we really don't need to worry (just yet anyway). If you're up to it, give it a read and sound off in the comments with your thoughts. 


Adam Zeis Adam Zeis "Mobile Nations Content Strategist" 3740 (articles) 2892 (forum posts)

Reader comments

RIM Files for New Patent - Advertising in Emails the Next Step?


i'll be damned if im paying a monthly fee for RIM service AND have to look at ads. this better be for some discounted service.

if RIM does this then they will see their user base vote with their feet and wallets. we will mass exodus to another device i guarantee it. if they want to offer a reduced rate or free data service and implement this then that would be fine as we can choose but if they start putting ads in emails that we pay for good bye and good riddance!

I agree.. I love love love my blackberry. I have vowed never to use another device.. Tmo just raised the price on their BB data plans (not for me because I was grandfathered and fought to keep my price when I upgraded to the 9700) so if I have to start seeing ads in my email they better either 1. Make the BB plan completely free (think of when there was free ad based dial up internet juno, netzero) or 2. Give a huge discount on the service.. But if that doesn't happen then I will def jump ship and get a droid

It's patents like this that make me want a Windows Mobile device. Although if they didn't file for the patent, someone would. I'm actually surprised this is patentable, it seems any internet content is ripe for harvesting the words or pictures and delivering ad content.

This is a good point. RIM stands to make money on this even if they never implement it. Someone may pay them for the rights if the patent goes through.

Now, as I am not currently a business owner or manager, I don't mind too much. However, I would likely leave RIM products if the ads didn't come along with discounted or free data service from my provider. But for those business owners and managers making phone choices for their business, they would almost certainly jump ship. I can see providers charging extra for the ad-free BIS/BES. Of course, they could plan on using BES as the separator anyway. In which case, I refuse to pay for BES just to not have ads in my email.

I hope this is simply RIM planning on making money off of people wanting to use their idea, because I really would not like having to use a different company's smartphone.

As with the comments above, I'm already paying for the service. I would only expect ads in my email if RIM/my carrier were going to provide free data.

I would like to say that if this happens I am gone, but I just don't know if I could do that.

I hope they applied just to keep someone else from doing so.......

If this ever happened then see you later RIM and hello to apple again or Android. NO one reaLly wants ads in their email and I will wait and see what does with this.

Do yourself a favor and go now. I just moved to a Droid after issues with the Storm and Tour. So far the best thing I ever did. I now get exchange, much faster phone and also 2 minute shutdown and restart not 10-15. Best of all a server can't wipe out my messenger and emails.

I switched to the Nexus One. Never thought i'd find another platform. Been a RIM user since the 7290>8700>8820>8900>9000>9700. Android works great and you can even push all of your other email accounts through the gmail service.

that only works if you're willing to let google have access to them. I'm not an uber-paranoid type but, I don't like letting a company that publically admits to creating databases formed from every user in the world's data that google touches and shares those databases with anyone that pays the right price like they are with the US government....I like that rim's servers are considered "hands off" for any government, which is why certain countries have taken so long for blackberry devices to be allowed by their governments....also, I spend WAY too much time fixing either the droid or the eris to even consider getting one of them....not to mention the aversion to buying a motorola slider when motorola has a bad track record with sliders and their screens staying functional in the long run and similar issues with HTC devices...though most HTC issues have been WinMo related.....

if I leave BB it'll be to apple...since I'm already a mac user anyway....

..does this mean free BIS? googlemail is free cos of the ads, so as we pay and have no ads, who`s up for free BIS but with ads? (paying and ads WILL lose RIM its consumer market share)

but i doubt as said this will see the light of day, someone will come to their senses before they alienate the market

really - just calm down with the histrionics. There's no indication that we'll see any of this in our lifetimes, so just chill.

Once you start to see ads in your email, then you can freak. For now, take a xanax and breathe.

...and that's because RIM reads these message boards, and we WANT them to see our collective outrage over the mere THOUGHT that they'd consider allowing ads in our e-mails.

This way, such nonsense never sees the light of day.

RIM, I love your products and service but count me among the many Crackberry loyalists who will high-tail it to your competition and not look back if you try to put ads into my e-mails.

i thought id never see the day, but if this is forced, i will leave BB, i refuse to pay the extra $29.99 per month to get addd...i've been a loyal BB user since the 8300 release back in 2007 but i will ditch BB to avoid this

If RIM even tries to insert an ad into email delivered to my device I'll drop them SO quickly........ I swear I will NEVER touch a RIM-made device ever again.

i'm with ever one else!!!!!!! if the e-mail's get ad's then rim better give there service for free if not they better not do it or they will be a broke bb maker's!!!!!!!!!!!! =(
t-mobile is sending me a window mobile device so maybe it's time for me to move away from rim!!! i don't want to but i got a feeling there going to start!!! i guess it's time to move on i love bb's but i don't love ad's!!!!

We love blackberry for the beauty of its email system combined with its very tight security implementing any system that reads your emails and attaches ad's based on keywords is beyond hideous and will in my opinion be a disastrous mistake from RIM.

You're wasting your time with the knee-jerk reactions. This may not even go through. Do you think a company as successful and intelligent as RIM would do something as silly as this? And even if they do, do you think it would be an inconvenience? We don't really know what the intent is even IF this happens.

This is sometimes how companies test the water and gage customer reaction. So it can be also be good to send a clear message to RIM that this would be unacceptable.

The ONLY way I see this patent is going to see light of day is RIM decides to provide their push email services free or at a significant discount.
If they do this, that puts the pressure on others (apple, palm , google etc...) to have a ad service for free or discount.

RIM has the patent so what to do if you are not RIM.

You have to figure that there are a lot of consumer users/buyers who would like to have a free or less expensive monthly service fee option...even with ads. Notice all the pimple faced kids walking around with bb's. Their parents would probably jump for joy if they could reduce the monthly fee for their nonessential teenage emails.

Smart move by RIM.

Gmail has been doing this since day 1. But since I'm on a BES along with BIS for my personal account I am not too worried.

Gmail and all the other webmails are free so its expected that there will be some form of ads however, we are paying for the bis and therefore should not have ads. I can however see Rim having some sort of new service(data) that is free with ads associated with it. This however, will be understandable to many people and myself.

Technically I guess "we" are paying for BIS but if they throw in ads then maybe the data plans will be cheaper? Haha, I doubt they will drop data prices.

I'm still waiting for Family Data Plans. Paying $30 for each person is horrible.

CHILLAX PEEPS. This is more likely than not a move to actually prvent anyone from doing this. If RIM patents this, then anyone wishing to hide this tech in an application will be in breach of RIMs patent. Trust me, RIM is focused on using less provider bandwidth not more. They want to speed up the device, not slow it down. My best business guess, is this is preventative in nature.

Id go back to WinMo in a heartbeat if they started pushing ads to our phones. Hopefully this will never see the light of day.

This is clearly a "defensive" patent; I wouldn't worry too much about seeing ads in your email ever.

RIM is under a lot of pressure from businesses who don't want to pay the double blackberry tax: once when they license the server and again every month when they pay the carrier for BES. They're already responding by giving away a limited server to small business but you still have to pay your carrier an extra BB tax.

BIS users are increasingly balking at paying 20 bucks a month on top of a carrier plan when they can get a gmail account and a google phone or shell out less for Mobile Me.

This gives RIM an escape hatch if the market goes this way. If users continue to happily pony up in record numbers, you'll never see this. Even if they do implement it, those of you willing to pay the BB tax wouldn't see it.

The primary thing this patent does is take the legs out from under Google. Google always gives product away until they can monetize it with ads later. They're giving away gmail to the handset now. If they can't monetize it later they're going to be pinched.

That does two things to Google: messes up their future ROI, and messes up their current willingness to promote Android/Gmail. If they can't rake in ad dollars later, they're not going to want too big a user base now. Messing up their product plans will also slow the rollout of any competing features until they can rejigger their ROI estimates.

This patent is a pretty good move on their part without ever having to implement it. The only problem will come when Google claims prior art or Apple or MS just ignores it and figures a court fight would be years away.


If this happens, where I have to pay $30/month and have ads I will switch to the new windows 7 series or android. It would be sweet to have ads with a free data service or only $15. I think it would make blackberries even more mainstream because everybody I know that doesn't have a smart phone, doesn't have one because of the data charge. It is a neat idea for waiving the data charge, but not otherwise.

Any chance this is a defensive troll patent? RIM saw that google was going to be sending email directly to handheld devices... RIM then made the logical leap that google would finance this delivery by injecting advertising into the stream.


Just a thought...

i really hope for them that this was filed and wont be used on bb devices.... people want user friendly no spam. and what are they working on while we clearly need a new browser and UI ? spamming my mailbox. great job guys..... seriously.....

This would definitely be the final straw for me. I suppose the emails will still be truncated too. RIM surely has to realize that ads in email that we already pay for would cost them a HUGE amount of customers, no? Or are they really that dumb? Wait, don't answer...

LOL hilarious patent! You mean u want to mess up my e-mails with crud when I already have to pay a monthly premium?? ON ya bike sunshine...I'll be back on the iPhone/Nokia bandwagon before you can say RIM!!

Though things like this disturbs me greatly, unfortunately, it does not surprise me. It seems in almost every area of life businesses and government are trying to worm into an individuals private life.

Would I leave RIM/Blackberry over something like this? Possibly, but if RIM does not do it, then someone else will do it.

Not sure what we can do, but I do not have to like it.

Even if they manage to keep security while including ads in email it's going to slow things down as it'll require more bandwidth, and any marketing is going to be the FIRST thing you see when you open it - with truncated emails already a problem, all you might get is just the ad.
And on the subject of RIM filing a patent to prevent anyone else from doing it, that doesn't make sense. Why would they spend money to prevent something happening that might bring them customers? If RIM is the only company that DIDN'T put ads in email along with having push email, they'd corner the consumer market as well.
IMHO, it only makes sense that they would file a patent as they actually mean to do it. Filing costs money and I can't see them doing it just for kicks. I really, really hope they intend on offering the choice of whether you want to pay the monthly fee OR have ads in your email, and then we'll have to worry about companies hiking the monthly fee, just because they can.
Bottom line, this is something I do NOT want to see come to fruition, I love my 'berry but it's not integral to my continued survival or employment.

"This (advertising) may be done by examining content in the message handled by a mobile device and matching portions of the message with predetermined criteria such as keywords or phrases..."

So basically the privacy of my personal emails will be compromised then. I really hope RIM thinks twice about implementing this move or else they will lose a LOT of BB customers, myself included.

In that case the next step for me is throwing my BlackBerry and it's pricey subscription fee in the garbage. Makes no sense, people pay to watch channels like HBO so they don't have to watch ads, I'm paying to use this blackberry- I'm not gonna put up with it. Learn how the world works for once, RIM.

Google has been doing this for awhile, just not on mobile devices. Wonder how google will respond to this patent, or if they even have their own patent of this advertising thing. Facebook has same type thing, put BMW or BB in your profile and then the never ending ads about BB or BMW appear. However both are free, so easily ignored by me even though they are annoying.

Back to RIM, I would say no. Not paying for a service for them to annoy the sh!t out of me with ads in ever email I get during the day.

You guys all say I will drop rim so fast if they put ads in email what if everyone does it then what don't you guys see this is were all the companies will be heading look at google most of there revenue is ads do you still use there search engine don't you

You guys are ridiculous you know that.

I guarantee you click on advertisements every day online and not even know it. Keyword targeted advertisements are not your typical flash advertisements that say click here to win an ipod or anything like that.

Go to google and search for Blackberry Bold. The top 2 links are to blackberry.com/Bold9700 and to t-mobile. These are textural based advertisements, yet they provide you with relevant results that you want to click on rather then feel forced to click on.

So say your email is to a buddy talking about buying a new house. RIM would be able to provide you with an advertisement for houses for sale in your area. Say your email is about finding a birthday present for your spouse, RIM would show you an ad about that.

Textual based advertising is not only beneficial to the advertiser, but also the user who clicks on the link. This is why Google has turned their adsense/adwords advertising system into a multi-billion dollar system.

This is my first BB and would be my last. I'd pay the early termination fee of my contract in an instant to get a new phone. From the sounds of it reading here, it's not going to happen. But one more voice against RIM forcing us to read ads in our "PERSONAL" email. The whole privacy thing comes into play as well.

Show me the ads! (And I'll show you my @$$ as I go back to WinMo! Likelihood of Google keeping their game clean is virtually nil.)

Yup! Nexus, here I come! If this is done, I'm outta here...been an avid BB fan/owner since 2005 but if this happens, I'll have to go to rehab. No more crack for me!

This is crap. I get enough junk mail that I put in my AOL spam folder on my computer. When I want to see something, I know the appropriate website to go to, I don't need ads in EMAIL! I block spam in my email on AOL, so I would only do same here. Junk is junk. If RIM is going to do this, they can keep their BlackBerries. I will go to Samsung.

take truncated, poorly rendered somewhat HTML emails and add in......advertisements!!!!!!!!?!?!?!!?!? What the hell RIM???????

Oh, but wait, BlackBerry delivers the emails faster than anyone else.............tops when it comes to email.....whatever...this just further proves that whole email thing is played out.

I wouldn't think twice about leaving RIM if they implement that patent. I see enough crappy unwanted, useless advertisements everyday from bus stops, train cars, elevators and websites. (That's just off the top of my head.)

The last thing I need is to see advertising of any type while I'm trying to read my emails on my Blackberry that I paid for running on a network that I'm paying to use.

Verizon already thinks its ok to push software I don't want to my device. (Bing in particular.) Not to mention leaving me no way to remove it. (without it returning.)

So I disagree with those of you saying that we shouldn't worry about it now or wait until it happens to say anything.
Now is exactly the time voice our opinions because I'm sure these companies monitor these responses to an extent.

If you wait for the changes to be implemented, that's when it's too late because most of the time they are not going to recall or retract the changes once they are in motion.

As far as Google putting ads in they're software, that's a totally different case. If the software is free and you want to use it well that's a trade off. My Blackberry device on the other hand wasn't free and neither is the service. I'm paying for it, and since I'm (as well as the other millions of customers.) paying for it, I want a say as to what gets pushed to me.

Sorry for the long rant. I just felt it had to be said.

If RIM implements this scheme, its Apple 3G or Android for me! This applies to 99.9% of paying Blackberry customers, so if you have any (and we know you do!) pull with RIM, let them know, ADS IN EMAILS IS A BAD IDEA, AND THAT COULD MEAN A SVERE REVERSAL OF FORTUNE TO RIM. INSTEAD OF GROWING TO BE THE PREMIER -SERIOUS- SMARTPHONE PLATFORM, IT SHALL DEVOLVE INTO A WHAT-COULD-BEEN, CAUTIONARY TALE TAUGHT AT BUSINESS SCHOOLS EVERYWHERE.

I've been debating on should I stay with BlackBerry or get a Droid. If this happened, my conclusion would be a no-brainer.
Good-bye BlackBerry.

Definitely not the kind of app I want to be hearing about from RIM right about now...

But if RIM has hundreds of patents as you say then I think its time they come to light before there isn't a chance for it...

The worst part of this is that RIM would be skimming through our emails to pick out keywords to "customize" the ads to a particular individual's BlackBerry. I am not going to pay $29.99/month to have RIM browse through my emails and then use the information they gather to spam me.

Implementing this seems to be backwards just based on the fact that RIM was so gung ho on how efficient their system is, in regards to fact that they use the bandwidth more efficiently. If they are using targeted data to create customized ad emails then they are sending more data. This doesn't conform to their philosophy.

It is a smart move if they are just holding a patent as a business move and not to screw with their users. Their users made them successful and I don't think that RIM would want to ruin that relationship.

If I even smell an add in my email I am gone to android... Still couodent jump to the itoy but I would definately leave rim!!!

If the service isn't offered free or extremely discounted ($5 a month instead of $25) with the ads, then I will be getting a different phone. Don't know what it will be but probably Windows Mobile.

i think this is purely a defensive patent. we've seen a few cases recently where RIM has taken other companies to court or been in court over patents, this is probably a case that where down the road, when someone else trys this (and i'm sure it will happen) they can go to court and try to make some money off of it

If this was implemented it would give me reason to leave Blackberry...... You know we would have to pay a higher charge to get rid of the ads.

I'm not sure why everyone feels the need to spazz out, this kind of thing simply gives them another pricing option in the future, lower monthly fees at the cost of adverts.

Their aim is to expand their userbase so this sort of thing is bound to be an additional option and not the replacement one since they aren't the ones that take the one size fits all approach of some other companies.

One thing that does seem slightly ironic is that the response of so many seems to be that they will switch to android, do any of you really think that mobile advertising isn't a primary motivation for google having introduced android in the first place?

My privacy is very important to me and would not want it compromised just so I can have related ad's no matter how useful they might be. I really hate to see RIM using their resources to come up with something like this when they could use it to improve their BB messenger or their email service. RIM if you really want to make $$ get more/better apps (or release the 9650 lol)
For those of you saying you would switch to android would it not be the same thing, as far as getting emails with ads or would you switch for the price?? I do not own an android phone so would not know.

We all brought this on ourselfs by getting the free Gmail accounts paid for by ads. If Google and others seriously sucks customers away from RIM by offering "free" e-mail service, we'll see RIM at least offer the same. If it goes that way, I hope RIM will offer a "mail plus" like Yahoo does that has better features with no ads at a small fee.

We all brought this on ourselfs by getting the free Gmail accounts paid for by ads. If Google and others seriously sucks customers away from RIM by offering "free" e-mail service, we'll see RIM at least offer the same. If it goes that way, I hope RIM will offer a "mail plus" like Yahoo does that has better features with no ads at a small fee.

Well since I pay monthly for BIS and pay yearly for my email, guess I too will be gone. Not such a heartbreaker for me though since I just switched over from a normal flip-phone, that is what I'll go back to. Won't like it cuz I love my 9700 already, but why on earth would I accept ads when I pay to NOT have them!

This could work if it was a a way to offer Blackberry to all pay as you go services. Contract customers pay for premium service, PAYG get served advertising. BIS is what prevents most operators (carriers for you north americans) from offering BB to non pay monthly customers. It would be good for RIM and the BB community in general if they got into that market.

Ill be choked if I start seeing tailored adds incorporated in my blackberry emails. It just won't seem as personal. Unless RIM gives us bigger screens, I definitely don't want to be sacrificing screen real-estate on garbage clutter.