RealTime IT News

RIM Jazzes up Enterprise PDA Products

NEW YORK -- With the spotlight trained on the wireless sector at this year's TechXNY/PC Expo, Research in Motion on Tuesday spelled out long-term plans to roll out enhanced handheld technology for the enterprise market.

The Ontario, Canada-based RIM, which is competing with the likes of Microsoft , Palm and Handspring for a share of the corporate market for handhelds, said it would gussy up its wireless enterprise software to integrate voice and data services.

The company, which rose to prominence with the BlackBerry two-way e-mail pager, said the new product set would expand the BlackBerry brand to include new handhelds, network standards, enterprise software, international expansion and partnerships.

Upcoming plans include the launch of a new BlackBerry handheld For GSM/GPRS networks, which includes a world band version. It said the world band handheld would support wireless data and voice services operating on GSM/GPRS networks in both North America (1900 MHz frequency) and Europe/Asia Pacific (900 MHz frequency). The world band BlackBerry handheld is currently expected to be available in the fall.

The company, which does the bulk of its business selling to corporations, resellers, and wireless carriers, said it would soon be offering multi-network support with the BlackBerry Enterprise Server. RIM said the new server offering would support multiple wireless network standards (including Mobitex, DataTAC, GSM/GPRS, iDEN and CDMA/1xRTT), allowing customers to support new BlackBerry handhelds without changing their back-end infrastructure.

The enterprise handheld market has been slow to take off but, with a new study by IDC projecting 2003 should be the year that the enterprise finally starts buying and deploying handheld devices, RIM is using the TechXNY/PC Expo show here to show off its preparedness.

According to IDC, IT administrators are pushing for handheld adoption to control what's moving around their networks, a report that sure to provide a boost to the struggling sector.

For Research in Motion, which has partnerships with wireless service providers Cingular and Motient and deals with AT&T and IBM, the plan is to continue plugging away at innovation to win additional business in the corporate arena.

With co-CEO Jim Balsillie on tap to deliver a keynote address on Wednesday, the company also announced it was developing new BlackBerry Handheld For the iDEN Network in the United States. It said the new PDA would feature the BlackBerry wireless email software with digital cellular, digital two-way radio service, text and numeric paging and browser. It would also be jazzed up with an integrated speaker/microphone, removable/rechargeable battery and external antenna.

Based on J2ME , the new handheld will have the ability to run a variety of business applications for the construction, financial and manufacturing industries. It is expected to be available later this year.

The company said it would build and market a handheld for CDMA/1xRTT networks to offer both data and voice support (e-mail, phone, SMS, browser and organizer applications).

The company's new products also include advanced management features For IT departments, capabilities that would tie in feedback from customers that have deployed wireless enterprise software. It would allow IT managers to push software to their users' PCs and set policies to require users to quickly update their handheld software. The new tools would also enable IT departments to wirelessly disable and erase all data on a BlackBerry handheld and remotely set or change the handheld's password.

RIM said the new IT management capabilities are expected to be supported in BlackBerry Enterprise Server for Microsoft Exchange in the fall and BlackBerry Enterprise Server for Lotus Domino in the winter.

In addition to support for Exchange and Lotus, RIM has built a new web-based application called BlackBerry Web Client to allow corporate customers to access multiple existing email accounts (including ISP accounts) from a single handheld through the POP3 protocol and/or mail forwarding.

The company's plans also include the rollout of a Mobile Data Service feature of BlackBerry Enterprise Server to allow always-on/push-based access to enterprise applications and information using the BlackBerry handheld, browser and software development tools.