RealTime IT News

BlackBerry Syncs With Enterprise IM

The maker of BlackBerry handhelds announced Tuesday it is building up its repertoire of enterprise-focused instant messaging (IM) clients.

Waterloo, Ontario-based Research In Motion (RIM) said it has signed contracts to support IM products from IBM , Microsoft and Novell .

RIM already supports consumer versions from Yahoo and is looking to rekindle a partnership with AOL after the companies parted ways two years ago.

Instant messaging is a quick riser in inter-office communication, according to IT research firm Radicati Group.

Estimates suggest the IM market worldwide will grow from $131 million in 2004 to $413 million by 2008. However, security concerns have recently plagued the IM marketplace, and RIM said its philosophy is to work with the various vendors to augment a corporation's messaging infrastructure.

For its contract with Microsoft, RIM said its BlackBerry subscribers can now connect with Microsoft Office Live Communications Server 2005 and BlackBerry Enterprise Server. RIM said it is also working to develop a Live Communications Server Client for BlackBerry that links mobile users via the Microsoft backend software. RIM said it hopes to have the product ready by the end of the year, with a trial in September.

Novell's GroupWise Messenger software will now also connect to BlackBerry devices, allowing the mobile platform to take advantage of Novell's multi-OS compatibilities, the company said. Novell said RIM customers can run its software, which is part of the Novell GroupWise 6.5 Collaboration Suite, on Linux, Windows or Novell NetWare. No date was set for Novell's release.

IBM is also playing the RIM game; the company said it is making its Lotus Instant Messaging and Web Conferencing available to the push-based BlackBerry wireless platform.

Lotus Instant Messaging for BlackBerry will also let system administrators follow a server-based audit trail of messages, which could be valuable for organizations working with government requirements like Sarbanes-Oxley or HIPAA . IBM said Lotus Instant Messaging for BlackBerry is expected to be available later this year.

Overall, RIM is seeing a new wave of interest in its BlackBerry platform. Mobile software vendor Handango reported today that software sales for BlackBerry are up 1,201 percent over the same quarter last year and 64 percent over the fourth quarter of 2004.

The company also said the conversion rate for BlackBerry customers is 69 percent higher than palmOne customers so far this year and the number of third-party BlackBerry applications has grown an average of 41 percent from the first quarter of 2004 to the same quarter this year.