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4/27/2007
05:07 PM
Stephen Wellman
Stephen Wellman
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BlackBerry To Offer Service For Windows Mobile: Why Does Anyone Care?

One of the big mobile business stories this week was Research in Motion's announcement of a version of its BlackBerry push e-mail service for Windows Mobile smartphones. This story got a lot of coverage but I have to admit,

One of the big mobile business stories this week was Research in Motion's announcement of a version of its BlackBerry push e-mail service for Windows Mobile smartphones. This story got a lot of coverage but I have to admit, I don't know why.Much of the press surrounding the new "virtual" BlackBerry platform for Windows Mobile suggested that this was something new for RIM. Well, RIM has offered BlackBerry Connect -- a service for other mobile platforms besides BlackBerry-native smartphones like S60 and Palm devices -- for years.

The only thing that makes this new offering different is that it appears that it will integrate more tightly with existing BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) deployments. But will it?

Here is Sean Ginevan's and Frank Bulk's take on the BlackBerry announcement over at Network Computing:

Thus, PIM, e-mail and existing apps can be handled using the RIM interface while new application development can be targeted at Windows Mobile.

That's the theory, at least. The reality is probably much more difficult. For instance, RIM has always had good control for polices around hardware and software because they controlled both the application server (BES) and handheld OS development. It's unclear how much of this policy support will be ported to the virtualized OS, given that their application would most likely not have access to lower levels of the hardware stack.

RIM will obviously have to suppress large parts of the Windows Mobile UI experience. Our experiences with other apps, like FMC, that suppress the native Windows Mobile dialer and notifications have been mixed at best.

In short, it sounds like this application would give the end user a BlackBerry/Windows Mobile hybrid that sort of works like a BlackBerry, but isn't as streamlined as a full-fledged BlackBerry and doesn't perform its native Windows functions very well. Does that even sound remotely appealing? I don't think so.

Daniel Taylor at the Mobile Enterprise Blog nails it:

There's no need to say again the things that have already been said about the virtual BlackBerry announcement. However, I will point out the BlackBerry Connect licensing program which has been available for quite some time. My take on Virtual BlackBerry for Windows Mobile is pretty much the same as my take on BlackBerry Connect -- if you want a BlackBerry, get a BlackBerry. What makes it such an excellent device is the integration between the back-end platform and the device itself, and BlackBerry Connect is unable to deliver that level of integration.

And thus, we're left with another icon on the desktop. Another application. Gone is the integration. Gone is the secure tunnel verified down to the operating system. And for RIM, gone is the business model.

Frankly, this new BlackBerry service sounds like a potential disaster for the enterprise IT manager and a lackluster app for the end user, not to mention the potential end of RIM's business model.

What do you think? Do you plan to look into this new BlackBerry extension for Windows Mobile? Or do plan to maintain your BlackBerry deployments through RIM's hardware and software?

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