Google App Connector Boosts BlackBerry Links

Google today announced the upcoming release of the Google Apps Connector for BlackBerry Enterprise Server, a software component designed to make it easier for mobile users to use Google Apps on Research in Motion’s BlackBerry devices.

The application enables users to access Gmail, Google Calendar and Contacts using the built-in BlackBerry smartphone applications they’re already familiar with, according to Raju Gulabani, product management director at Google (NASDAQ: GOOG).

“For instance, users can instantly receive Gmail messages within the built-in e-mail client on their Blackberry smartphones,” Gulabani wrote in a Google blog post. “And they can continue to use the same shortcuts to manage their BlackBerry messages. New meeting invites and event changes in Google Calendar are immediately updated on the BlackBerry Calendar, keeping both calendars in sync.”

Gulabani also said users will be able to access coworkers’ contact information via access to a company-wide Global Address List.

“Both personal and business contacts saved on Google Apps are automatically synchronized over the air to users’ BlackBerry smartphones and integrated into the native Blackberry smartphone applications,” he wrote.

At the same time, admins are given full control of the software and can continue to manage BlackBerry smartphones using BlackBerry Enterprise Server. Google Apps Connector installs on BlackBerry Enterprise Server, connecting it to the Google Apps cloud and synchronizing e-mail, calendar and contacts for all BlackBerry smartphone users.

Google Apps Connector for BlackBerry Enterprise Server is currently in beta testing with some companies and universities, and will be available free to all Premier and Education Edition customers this July.

The news marks the latest victory for Research in Motion’s (NASDAQ: RIMM) mobile juggernaut. The BlackBerry is also the focus of a new partnership with HP (NYSE: HPQ) today that offers Web-based printing, mobile management software and managed deployment services for enterprises using the devices.

Retail researcher NPD Group also reported that the BlackBerry Curve outsold the Apple iPhone during the first quarter.

While RIM manages to hold on to its dominance in the enterprise, with brisk sales for its last quarter, one-upping Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) in sales is quite a feat: The iconic iPhone continues to sell at a staggering clip, and recent data from Forrester Research shows the iPhone nibbling at the enterprise market with some success.

The close scrutiny of the sector highlights just now important smartphones have grown in the mobile landscape and among information workers.

Smartphones represented just 17 percent of handset sales volume in Q1 2008, but now make up 23 percent of sales, according to NPD. That’s as the summer is slated for a smackdown in the sector — Palm’s (NASDAQ: PALM) Pre is set for release by June, while new iPhones from Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) are rumored for next month and several Android-based handhelds are coming from Samsung. Motorola also is planning phones based on the Google-backed Android mobile operating system, due out in time for the holiday shopping season.

Android is also being closely watched as a up-and-coming rival to the Apple iPhone, RIM’s BlackBerry and Microsoft’s (NASDAQ: MSFT) Windows Mobile, in part because Android’s open source model means it’s relatively inexpensive for handset makers to build into their designs.

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