Weekly Contest: Should RIM follow Nokia’s lead?, Aug 31

Anyone who’s been listening to the other blogs knows that Nokia has had a pretty busy week, unloading a music store and a reinvigorated gaming platform, both under their new Ovi internet services umbrella. Combine that with their announcement earlier this month about discontinuing some of their chipset production, Nokia’s game is changing significantly. Some would go so far to say that they’re following Apple’s manufacturer-first lead; Nokia is no longer “providing a white label service for operators to use but … placing its own brand ahead of theirs”. We’ve had our fair share of OEM sovereignty issues lately, which is why Nokia’s progress this week is especially noteworthy. Palm has certainly provided an example of what RIM shouldn’t be doing, but Nokia leads the way, and could teach BlackBerry a thing or two. So, BBCool readers, based on Nokia’s goings-on lately, is RIM in a position to take any tips? Should they stay the course and keep doing what they’ve done best, or is there room for them to branch out? BlackBerry Connect is about the most they’ve ventured into alternative service territory, and it could be considered a little less than successful. Regardless, to remain competitive, RIM has to keep changing; will their next big step be similar to Nokia’s?

The reader who can nail down why RIM should go after consumers independent of carriers (or stick to their current carrier-centric strategy) will win three ringtones from Bplay.

Check behind the jump for last week’s winner.

Weekly Contest: Write an open letter to RIM, Aug 24

Engadget schooled Palm in the ways of awesomeness. Does RIM need similar scolding? Maybe just a few helpful hints? Write us your open letter and win an Impatica ShowMate.

The BlackBerry Cool Podcast: Boy Genius Interviewed (Pt. 1), Aug 22

BlackBerry Cool EIC Douglas Soltys interviews the man, the myth, the Boy Genius, about 9000 series BlackBerrys, the iPhone and whether or not RIM is cool. Also, BG tells us about wanting to work with RIM.

BlackBerry 8830 comes to Alltel, Aug 31

Alltel announced yesterday their release of the BlackBerry 8830 World Edition. The 8830? Really? If you’re going to be this late to the party, why not pick up something a little more recent? Even Trinidad has the BlackBerry 8300. Besides, corporate customers are probably a-o-k with the BlackBerry 8703e that Alltel is already offering. To be fair, they do have a focus on roaming, and that’s what the BlackBerry 8830 is all about. Available for $249.99 with mail-in rebate.

Press release behind the jump.

Yet another RIM acquisition rumor, Aug 31

Word’s floating around about Microsoft acquiring RIM, but c’mon, we’ve heard all this talk before. Does it ever happen? No. BBCool’s set their stance on Microsoft in particular buying RIM, and especially rumors of RIM acquisitions in general. RIM’s stock showed a little blip as a result of the prospect, but it’ll pass. No doubt Microsoft is interested, but until talks are actually underway, let’s all just calm down a bit.

Handmark unleashes a bundle of BlackBerry games, Aug 30

I-play has just inked a deal with Handmark to distribute their top titles, such as a Fast and the Furious racing game, a puzzler by the name of Jewel Quest and 3D Pool: High Roller. I-play’s site lists most of these as compatible with only BlackBerry 8100’s, probably since their primary interest lies with mainstream cellphones, but I’ve received word from Handmark that the games will be working with all BlackBerrys. The most eye-catching of their titles is Pillowfight, where you “join an elite and sexy crew of hot women in the exclusive world of competitive pillow fighting”. Damn. Sign me up.

Opera Mini 4 goes into second round of beta, Aug 30

The granddaddy of mobile web browsing has cleaned up a bunch of bugs from their Opera Mini 4 Beta, and released a new beta 2 version available for free download. Beta 1 actually didn’t work at all on my BlackBerry 8800, so it was nice to get it running and have a go at Opera Mini. The low-res image loading is a good way of keeping data traffic down, but the virtual mouse scrolling is a little chunky. Keypad scrolling goes quicker, but I’d like to do most of my browsing with the scrollball, so a higher sensitivity option would be nice. Outside of that, Opera’s added a few BlackBerry-specific features, such as native menus and “lots of optimizations”. Viewing web pages in their native format is nice, but really slows down actual browsing, and let’s be fair, it’s a bit of a joke compared to the iPhone’s Safari. Regardless, it’s still great to have a free, full-featured web browser available for other mobiles.

Features, including landscape mode, behind the jump.

BES version 5 en route, maybe with HTML e-mail handling?, Aug 30

ThumbsupRuss over at the BlackBerry Beat has pointed us towards a hint that version 5.0 of the BlackBerry Enterprise Server software is in the works, with 4.1.5 coming out in a not-too-distant November. HTML e-mail on your BlackBerry might be on the way, according to these notes. Based on the purported features below, is there anything else you BES admins out there would like to see?

BES 4.1.5 - scheduled November 2007
Intelligent HTML & TRF E-Mail handling
Free/Busy lookup during meeting request creation
Remote Email search and retrieval

BES 5.0 Argon Q2 2008
Brand new Admin UI
A full suite of APIs
Enhanced SW Configurations
Integration with AD
Custom Admin and User Roles
Hierarchal IT Polices
Primary - standby architecture
Automated failover option
Manual failover for maintenance

MMS and Buy lets your camera do the ringtone shopping, Aug 30

The digital record label Craze has announced their new service called MMS and Buy, which lets you send an MMS picture of a record label to their number which replies with a link to their site with ringtones of the music on that album. Anyone who’s into the mobile music shopping has probably looked at Walkman’s TrackID with a bit of envy. MMS and Buy might not be quite as versatile as audio recognition, but it’s a start. Right now, the service is only available in the UK, but they’re hoping to expand into other merchandise, like posters and concert tickets.

AT&T BlackBerry 8310 launching September 24th., Aug 30

We’ve heard that AT&T’s GPS-ified BlackBerry 8310 is set for launch on September 24th, which would line up well with a their Pearl 2 debut mid-September. The talk about BlackBerry 8800s getting phased out to make room for the 8820 gets you wondering about how long it will be before the BlackBerry 8300 gets the same treatment. If there’s no significant price difference, is there a reason someone wouldn’t go for the 8310 over the 8300? Hell, if the BlackBerry 8310 is going to be in black, it’s a done deal - anyone who hadn’t gotten around to picking up a Curve will just grab the newer model. All these new devices are fun and all, but should RIM be spacing out their product releases a bit more to give them time to sell?

How to pair your expensive car to your expensive phone, Aug 29

BerryReview just pointed us to a handy application from RIM for an incredibly small sect of BlackBerry users: those who own a Land Rover LR2, Volvo S80 and V70 or Jaguar XK. This application, the Bluetooth Pairing Helper, supposedly eases the Bluetooth pairing process with your car as outlined in RIM’s knowledgebase. Outside of working with a microphone built into the car for voice calls, what other applications are there for Bluetooth in your ride? Music? Maybe some diagnostics?

New BlackBerry 88XX OtterBox available, Aug 29

OtterBox, ever the heavy-duty case providers, have just announced their OtterBox 1933 which fits the BlackBerry 8800, BlackBerry 8820 and BlackBerry 8830. As an 8800 user, this case looks like something I wouldn’t mind using on a daily basis. Most of the OtterBox products for BlackBerry turn your handheld into a little microcomputing tank, which for novelty’s sake is awesome, but impractical for nonindustrial use. We’ve got a review cooking for their 1930 model (fitting the BlackBerry 8700), and hope to get our hands on the 1933 real soon. Keep an eye out for this in the $49.99 range in both classic black and yellow.

Press release behind the jump.

Linux to frag smartphone OS competition for next five years, Aug 29

A recent ABI Research report is forecasting huge progress for Linux as the OS of choice for smartphones, claiming 31% of smartphones will be running it by 2012 thanks to a compound annual growth rate of 74%. Both Nokia and Palm have been flirting with Linux adoption for awhile. In fact, being more of an open product was one of the key changes Palm needed to embrace, according to a certain open letter. The report just goes to show that doing so early will get them on board with developers. Now, the BlackBerry’s fairly closed in terms of its OS and odds are it’s going to stay that way. How much of a lead could open source adoption give Palm over RIM?

Viigo/BlackBerryCool to Go channel gets customizable, Aug 29

Our buddies at Virtual Reach have a few new channels available for subscription on their free RSS reader: one is a customizable ESPN sports feed and another for exchange rates. Getting exchange rates on the go is just plain handy, especially if it’s folded into something you’re already using (you are already using BlackBerry Cool to Go, right?), but the customized sports feed is certainly something new that could seriously expand the usefulness of Viigo’s channels. Instead of cruising through the folders and finding the stuff you like, being given the option to make your own ensures that you get the content you want. We’re really hoping that Virtual Reach brings this kind of thing to more of their channels.

RIM and AT&T are negotiating a deal to leave the BlackBerry 8820 un-neutered; the Internet wins, Aug 29

We were told to keep this one under wraps until the deal went through, but our friends over at the CBerry have started reporting a release date for the BlackBerry 8820, so we can’t hold out any longer. CrackBerry states that along with a September 4th release date, AT&T BlackBerry 8820s will not have their built-in GPS neutered to work with only TeleNav’s service, like we told you previously. They’re probably right, and here’s why.

Right now RIM and AT&T are in the process of re-negotiating the GPS status of the BlackBerry 8820. We’re not sure if the deal has been finalized yet, but if the AT&T documents are correct, it seems at least all-but a done deal. What’s the reason for this? Well, frankly, it’s because AT&T was none too pleased with the hurricane of negative feedback that rolled through the Internet after we broke the story. So basically, loyal citizens of the Internet, you have yourselves to thank for putting AT&T in their place and getting the BlackBerry you deserve. (Unofficial) word from RIM is that, internally, they’re popping open champagne and are very grateful for the support they got from the “BlackBerry Nation”.

One question still remains: what will happen to the neutered BlackBerry 8820s already out there? Boy Genius had reported that AT&T was set to slowly roll out the device on a store by store basis, once BlackBerry 8800 stock had been eliminated, which means that there are at least some out there (the neutering is done via software, so every device that hasn’t left RIM’s hands yet can easily be fixed, although we’re told that this could add a day or two of delay to the supply chain). Will they simply send them back, or sell them to the public and hope nobody notices? Our source told us that this depends on how many there are in existence, but for our money, nothing underhanded AT&T does would surprise us.

(Note: If anyone can get their hands on one, you know who to email.)

Final thoughts? If the deal hasn’t been finalized yet, RIM, you have AT&T by the balls: keep squeezing. If it has been finalized, congratulations, and never let a carrier push you around again. Your real customers are rooting for you.

Oh, and RIM? You’re welcome.

UNO coming to BlackBerry, Aug 29

Oasys Mobile has announced their release of the classic card game UNO on BlackBerry. C’mon, who doesn’t like UNO? It’s like Crazy Eights, only more multicolored, and let’s face it, everyone likes multicoloration. UNO’s been doing pretty well on other mobile platforms, so it should perform well on BlackBerry.

“We are very excited about being able to bring such a powerful brand to the market on BlackBerry smartphones,” said Keith Pichelman, CEO of Concrete Software. “UNO Classic 2007 is a top selling game on many platforms. We have very high expectations for the BlackBerry platform as well.”

Google teams up with emoze, Aug 29

emozeEmoze has announced today that they’re now offering free push Gmail on any cellphone out there. We remember emoze, right? Emoze has been openly targeting RIM as a competitor, and now they’re horning in on their Google turf, which is fair game. Making nice with Google is good for business. There’s a divide in what folks want in e-mail: those who need the whole shebang, and those who just want to occasionally check their personal e-mail, and emoze is going after the latter. While RIM obviously doesn’t have to worry about losing their full-feature customers, emoze’s free push e-mail certainly raises the bar for capturing a casual market.

BlackBerry 8820 UI shots, Aug 29

BlackBerry 8820Gizmodo’s found some folks on Pinstack with pictures of BlackBerry 8820 getting its Wi-Fi groove on. It’s kind of old hat by now, especially with plenty of folks in Europe with their hands on one, but we’ll take whatever we can get on this side of the pond. Reports still linger about the quality of Wi-Fi service; are there any early-adopting Europeans who’d care to share their experiences with the BlackBerry 8820?

BlackLine launches Blip beta, Aug 28

BlipBlackLine has announced today beta testing for their new location-based service called Blip for the BlackBerry 8800. They’re aiming for a social networking product with Blip, where your location is transmitted regularly to a particular list of friends who can access your location through Blip’s website. Although this beta test is geared specifically for the BlackBerry 8800, anything on OS 4.2 will work, and if you’re already packing one of BlackLine’s GPS Snitch products, it will do the job too.

You might remember our chat with the fine folks from BlackLine back at WES, and with GPS-enabled devices like the BlackBerry 8310 coming around the corner, we’re really excited to see which new RIM products BlackLine supports, and how Blip does. BBCool has just today received their Blip package in the mail, so expect a review sometime real soon.

The first 1,000 people knocking at their door before August 31st. will be able to get in on the beta, so get crackin’!

Press release behind the jump.

RIM fights Atari to keep BrickBreaker, Aug 28

GavelIt looks like Atari’s none too happy about BrickBreaker, the game that’s been preloaded on BlackBerrys since the 7200, and has been pursuing legal action. The resemblance to Atari’s Breakout is noticeable, and you can hardly blame Atari for the litigation. RIM has no doubt enjoyed the enterprise popularity in the game, and by association mobile games have likely seen a boost in visibility. Two weeks ago, Superior Court Judge Harvey Spiegel motioned for the case to be moved to the Superior Court of Ontario in Toronto.

Seduce employees to increase device adoption in enterprise, Aug 28

In RIM’s recent issue of BlackBerry Connection, there was an interesting article on how to improve corporate BlackBerry adoption by “seducing” users. We’re used to hearing about companies with restrictive IT policies that block downloading ringtones or games, but the IT director at British and American Tobacco has gone another route. By not only allowing but encouraging employees to use the devices for business and personal activities, the BlackBerry experience had become an entirely enjoyable one for the folks at BAT. When implementing the devices, they targeted executives who had shown a high level of acceptance to innovative technologies to build excitement among peers before issuing more BlackBerrys. Enough people out there see their BlackBerry as the ball and chain that the boss has latched onto them; maybe it’s time IT directors change that and show a little love.

BlackBerry 8120 shots and details, Aug 28

Pinstack head honcho Hayden has got a plethora of fresh shots of a BlackBerry 8120, packing Wi-Fi, external microSD slot, OS 4.3, 3.5mm headphone jack, and a Wi-Fi browser. However, while we’re pretty sure that the CDMA version of the BlackBerry Pearl 2 (or the 8130, if you will) will have a 2 Mpx camera, our man Hayden neglected to state whether the camera in the BlackBerry 8120 is 2 or 3.2 Mpx, which prevents us from resolving the debate as to which device will be better. (Which would you take: EVDO, 2 Mpx BlackBerry with no confirmed MicroSD slot, or an EDGE, 3.2 Mpx BlackBerry with Wi-Fi web browsing? Also, where for art thou GPS? Deep within the 8110, perchance?)

Other items of note on this new beauty? Notice that, while the form factor has stayed mostly the same in comparison to the original Pearl, the soft keys surrounding the trackball have been enlarged, and there appears to now be a top and rear speaker. Also, check out the sweet “Dimension L” theme - I cannot wait to get my hands on that.

Thanks for the snaps, Hayden!

More BlackBerry 8120 goodness behind the jump.

Mobile photo sharing for your BlackBerry, Aug 27

RadarMobile photo sharing service Radar has announced today support for BlackBerry, Windows Mobile devices, and others numbering over 220. Cameras on phones tend to get a pretty bad rap in the quality department, but Radar’s doing some pretty cool stuff here. Think of it as Twitter, only with pictures. MMS isn’t a service available to everybody, but Radar seems to be a way to get around that. They’re boldly claiming that you can share not only your pictures, but also videos with any registered friend on any phone on any carrier worldwide. The producer, Tiny Pictures, has even got a Facebook app ready to rock. I’ll admit it; I’m a sucker for the Facebook and the social networking and all that. Stuff like Radar makes me want to trade in the 8800 for something with a camera.

Tips for reducing BES administration stress, Aug 27

StressA reader just let us know about a Zenprise report they were going over, which included some crazy numbers about e-mail and stress in the workplace.

The survey found that 36% of respondents indicated that their job is ‘stressful’ or ‘extremely stressful’. However, when email is down, 74% of respondents indicated that their job is ‘stressful’ or ‘extremely stressful’. Only air traffic controllers and police officers were viewed as having jobs more stressful than that of an IT administator whose email system is down!

Wow. Respect to the IT admins out there who are dealing with stress levels comparable to that of cops. The report had a few pointers that might help keep that blood pressure down, like “be ready to assemble a cross-functional SWAT team to quickly resolve BlackBerry issues” and “consistently monitor & audit your Active Directory infrastructure”.

Thanks, Chris!

Full tips behind the jump.

SpinVox partners with Rogers for textified voicemail, Aug 27

SpinVoxIf you tuned in to our WES podcasts, you might remember the name SpinVox, purveyors of some fine voice-to-text software. Today, Rogers announced that SpinVox’s services would be available to subscribers, notably transcribing inbound voicemail into SMS messages. Part of the reason for Rogers’ support of SpinVox in particular is the multilingual support. Here in Ottawa, it’s bilingual central and easy to see how including French language support is a good business move.

Palm Centro coming to Sprint, Aug 27

Palm CentroGizmodo’s procured a press shot of Palm’s upcoming device, the Centro, and given a few extra details, Palm may be working its way where RIM’s presence is negligible. The Centro will be geared towards the youth bracket, with a pricetag to match: $99. Sprint will have an exclusive deal for 90 days before other carriers will start seeing it. EVDO speeds plus touchscreen and a full QWERTY keypad make for a decent package at that price. The picture also has MSN, Yahoo! and AOL IM clients all in tabbed view, which is another step in the right direction for capturing a younger market. Is the Centro something that a BlackBerry-toting dad would get for his kid over, say, a Sidekick iD?

New Sprint ads for the discriminating multibillionaire, Aug 27

$10.5 million is small potatoes for the service of a BlackBerry 8830, plus the limited-time private island offer is a nice extra. Well, says Sprint. YouTube’s down right now, but for whenever it gets back up…

YouTube video behind the jump.