Hot off the presses, we’ve got news that the BlackBerry 8820 is en route, packing delicious Wi-Fi connectivity. Wi-Fi 802.11 a, b and g will all be supported, as documented in the FCC patent last week, and not only for data. Generic Access Networking (a.k.a. UMA) will allow for seamless dual-mode calling while in a Wi-Fi hotspot. Although that’s the big feature, besides which the device is largely an 8800, the new BlackBerry will also also be bringing a few other goodies. For one, it will support microSDHC memory cards, meaning up to 32GB of storage capacity. We looked at the 8 GB cards that are in the works from Samsung not too long ago. No 3G just yet, still quad-band GSM/GPRS and EDGE. GPS is in there too, and RIM also points out AZERTY and QWERTZ keypad availability, pointing to an early launch in both France and Germany. In fact, RIM’s handset index lists France as the only European country confirmed to carry the 8820 so far.
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It must be International E-mail Security Day, or something. Izecom, an S/MIME e-mail encryption service provider, has joined the ISV Alliance today, hopefully counteracting some of the bad press following the French incident. Their Izemail client for BlackBerry has only been on the block for under a year, but clearly they’re looking at growing demand.
“BlackBerry is the mobile email platform that is most widely used around the world,” said Christine Karman, President & CEO of Izecom. “At the same time, the need for email encryption has become obvious. We have a great solution for S/MIME email encryption on BlackBerry smartphones. By joining the BlackBerry ISV Alliance Program we can ensure that our products will continue to work seamlessly with the leading BlackBerry smartphones.”
Man, these guys really like gunning for RIM, don’t they? emoze has taken a golden opportunity to kick RIM while they’re down, in what’s supposed to pass as a press release. I have no idea since when “ha ha, you guys suck, we’re awesome” qualified as a press release, but there you go. It might be easy to brush emoze off as small potatoes compared to BlackBerry’s push e-mail, but the fact remains that governing bodies could use an alternative push e-mail client with more security. According to some emoze is solid. Although no particular threat to RIM’s success, emoze does have the capability to offer services where RIM can’t.
You know, maybe BlackBerrys aren’t really fit for upper-level government work. Turns out New Zealand doesn’t use BlackBerrys for transmitting any information above bottom-rung security clearance, and having heard a thing or two from government employees here in Ottawa, I can tell you the Canadian government works the exact same way. As for France, the statement quoted from Alain Julliet is actually two years old, and applies to the security risk posed by all mobile devices, which seems only reasonable. So when RIM says that governments have “given the system their accreditation“, they might be milking it just a little.
We’ve got plenty of government-issued BlackBerrys floating around Ottawa, but I guess Paris will be a different story. According to Le Monde, the French government has discontinued its BlackBerry use in the President’s office due to concerns over data security, leaving many officials to use theirs in secret. They could always take a hint from the English, and sneak their BlackBerry usage in the washroom, although that’s a far cry from how they used to snub authority. RIM denies any danger of information getting into the wrong hands.
RIM responded to the allegations by saying that Blackberry’s encryption system was “the most secure wireless data solution available”, pointing out that it had been approved for the transmission of sensitive data by the UK government and by Nato. The US, Australia, New Zealand, Austria and Canada had also given the system their accreditation, the company added.
OnAir just got their GSM equipment certified for airworthiness, meaning it won’t be long until European fliers will have something productive to do on those short flights. The European Aviation Safety Authority approved OnAir’s services after rigorous testing, and will soon be available on the Airbus A318 among others.
“The service will be launched on an Air France aircraft, followed by bmi and TAP (of Portugal) aircraft. All three airlines will run single aircraft commercial trials on Airbus aircraft, which will allow them to fine-tune their passenger communications offer and evaluate it before embarking on a fuller-scale deployment. The first fleet deployment of OnAirâ€™s services will be on Ryanairâ€™s Boeing 737 aircraft.”