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8/16/2011
12:05 PM
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The RIM Empire Strikes Back

RIM has three shiny new BlackBerry models and a compelling goodie for SMBs. But the mobile buzz is all Google-rola.

InformationWeek Now--What's Hot Right Now
Long ago in a galaxy far, far away, RIM ruled the enterprise mobile space with the BlackBerry. Then the iPhone and these nasty droids showed up. Google-rola, Googlorola, or Moogle--whatever you want to call the soon-to-be-merged Google and Motorola Mobility--shook up the mobile world Monday. The mobile industry and users continue to debate what the deal may mean to the patent wars and future Android devices. Working in that shadow, RIM unveiled something new Tuesday for the BlackBerry faithful--three shiny new devices that deliver what they promise, says InformationWeek.com's Fritz Nelson in his hands-on review. In these new BlackBerry models, you will find sleeker hardware, faster performance, and the new BlackBerry 7 OS. You will find that RIM has "taken one of its most visible failures--the BlackBerry Storm (1 and 2)--and expertly revived it under the Torch moniker," Nelson writes.

What won’t you find? A secret weapon that surprise attacks Apple or Android device makers. For that reason, these devices will please existing Blackberry users but won’t win over new recruits, in Nelson's opinion.

So where will RIM grow its empire next?

Monday, RIM aimed its attention at the SMB market, with a new cloud-based management. BlackBerry Management Center lets companies with up to 100 BlackBerry handsets manage consumer-grade accounts in a central interface with remote administration, backup, and security features, as InformationWeek.com's Robert Strohmeyer reported. Mobile management can become an incredible time-suck at SMB's. This service addresses that worry as well as the prime security worry--lost and stolen devices.

But you have to wonder, if enterprise users keep walking their iPhones and Androids through the front door, whether enterprise IT likes it or not, how will SMBs convince users that they must use BlackBerry models?

SMB users have had to make their own technology choices and solve their own problems for years--so they have plenty of opinions. And I'm sure plenty of them already own an iPhone or an Android phone.

On the other hand, Apple doesn’t have a direct competitor to BlackBerry Management Center--yet.

Laurianne McLaughlin is editor-in-chief for InformationWeek.com. Follow her on Twitter at @lmclaughlin.

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