Vodafone partnering with RIM, Feb 11

VodafoneVodafone has recently signed a deal with RIM to work on “consumer services” for BlackBerry. What those services are remain a bit of a mystery. Maybe it’s simply the deployment of BlackBerry Unite!, but maybe RIM’s looking for a bit of outside help to make something new. The centralized server that all BlackBerry devices go through is a convenient way of deploying new services that has so far only really been used for e-mail. What could Vodafone and RIM be cooking up, hmm?

BlackBerry Cool Podcast: Episode 16, Feb 08

Simon Sage brings in the BlackBerry news for the week of February 4th., including a few interesting new RIM patents, a fresh peek at BlackBerry Unite!, Telus’ pink BlackBerry 8130 and more.

Weekly Contest: Palatable Patents, Feb 08

We just got hammered with two new patent filings that are pretty exciting. The one to make the best stab at what these new technologies actually mean for BlackBerry will win a copy of FlipSide, the BlackBerry music player.

RIM to set up shop in India?, Feb 11

RIMAccording to RIM’s Asia-Pacific VP Norm Lo, “India is a very important market for us and we have a long-term view of it. Our growth in India and the Asia-Pacific region as a whole is making us explore the possibilities of setting up a manufacturing hub in this part of the world.” China was also on the plate to join the ranks of Canadian, Mexican and Latin American manufacturing centres, but it’s more than just factories set to go up. India’s workforce also shows a lot of promise for an R&D centre there, too. Nothing’s set in stone just yet, but it’s clear that some expansion into Asia-Pacific is on RIM’s mind.

Smartphone usage on the rise, Feb 11

A graph showing customer satisfactionA new report from ChangeWave indicates that more and more cell phone users are planning a switch to more advanced models, and RIM and Apple are leading the pack. Of 4,182 consumers polled, 15% said they would be buying a phone from RIM in the next 6 months, while 17% said they’d be purchasing an iPhone. RIM was behind only Apple in customer satisfaction, ringing in at 55% compared the the iPhone’s 72%. While second place is nothing to sneeze at, things look even brighter when compared with the previous report in October. Apple’s customer satisfaction has fallen a whopping 10 points, mirrored to a lesser degree by every other smartphone company save RIM, who has risen 4 points. RIM also shows more momentum than Apple in those planning to purchase a new phone in the next 6 months: while while Apple has risen only 1 point since October, RIM has risen 3. The next report should be very interesting.

BlackBerry Cool Podcast: Episode 16, Feb 08

BBCoolTopping the news this week are our two new patents from RIM and whether they’ll be seeing the light of day. Also, we’ve got a bit more info on BlackBerry Unite!, the next update to BlackBerry Enterprise Server, and plenty more. Take a listen from here, or heck, even check out iTunes now that the feed’s working again. There are still a few back episodes to get in there, but the next challenge will be to get the feed set up on Zune Marketplace.

Weekly Contest: Palatable Patents, Feb 08

BlackBerry 9000Y’know, the BlackBerry 9000 isn’t even out yet, and we’re already looking at some vastly new designs that could easily be seen in the next generation. Maybe it’s a little hasty to presume that these new patents by RIM will get used, but they do strike a certain chord of believability. Some of the goofier stuff like angular and roll-out keyboards are easily dismissed as wacky ideas that could get cashed in on down the road, but the angled slider and touchscreen designs are both tried and true formulas that can be immediately capitalized on.

The big question is where do these features fit into RIM’s product line? How likely is the BlackBerry 9000 to change from our first looks before launch? Enough to incorporate either of these new patents? Or is a touchscreen slider what we’re looking at after the BlackBerry 9000? Maybe a 9200 or 9300, or perhaps a new series altogether? Anyone willing to hazard an educated guess will win a copy of the fine music player for your BlackBerry, FlipSide.

Last week’s winner behind the jump…

RIM patents slider design, Feb 08

TiltyHot on the heels of the touchscreen patent is another filed by RIM for a slider design that features a simple support mechanism underneath which keeps the screen tilted. While the “handheld mobile communication device with moveable display/cover member” was filed back in July ‘06, it still leaves you to wonder how it relates to the more-recently patented LCD touchscreen, considering they’ve been released to the public on the same day and all. Anyone think the angled look might sway some HTC users?

Boulder Dash coming to BlackBerry, Feb 08

BoulderMagmic has recently signed an agreement with IP holder First Star Software to port the latest of the Boulder Dash games, Boulder Dash Rocks, to BlackBerry. Boulder Dash is an old-style puzzler involving navigating a maze by pushing, blasting enemies and collecting jewels. While the Commodore 64 roots might be just a smidgen before my time, but I played something similar on the clunky ol’ Game Boy. Despite its age, the franchise is still kicking, with versions of the game available on both PSP and DS, and if Magmic’s proven anything, it’s that they can do retro really well.

pMDsoft 4.0 available on BlackBerry, Feb 08

pMDsoft has released their self-titled charge capture solution on BlackBerry. Doctors can now enter patient names, diagnoses, procedures, and more into their BlackBerry and have it automatically synced with all the other members of their practice. The software also features the full history of every patient’s visit, text search of diagnoses, procedures, and notes, the ability to share patients between doctors, and quite a lot more. While it might sound like a cure-all, this isn’t the only medical software for BlackBerry by a long shot. You practically can’t practice without one.

RIM patents touchscreen LCD, Feb 08

ZDNet has discovered that RIM has patented a form of touchscreen LCD. The patent, titled System and Method for Integrating A Touchscreen Within an LCD, describes “a touchscreen which is integrated into an LCD” in more detail than you can shake a stick at. The technology works primarily by detecting displacement of liquid crystal in a display and sending information based on that movement. ZDNet author Russell Shaw pointed out that the patent was published only four months after being filed rather than the usual 18, a very good indicator that the technology will be used soon. The rumors about a touchscreen for the BlackBerry 9000 have been mostly quashed, so it remains to be seen what device the technology will be used in.

Webinar to show off BES 4.1 service pack 5, Feb 07

BB LogoWord just got out of a webinar showing off the newest BlackBerry Enterprise Server service pack, featuring all the good stuff we’ve been looking forward to in OS 4.5, such as full HTML e-mail viewing and remote e-mail lookup. Of course, this is all the same stuff we’ve been seeing since WES ‘07, but who knows, maybe this is signaling an impending release. Even then, we’ll still have to wait for the handheld software to follow up before we can start seeing all these new features. The webinar is taking place Feb 21st., from 12 PM - 1PM EST for the Exchange presentation, and Feb. 20th. at the same time for the Lotus Domino presentation.

BlackBerry 8110 comes to South Africa, Feb 07

BlackBerry 8110South African carrier Vodacom looks to be the first on the continent to be supporting the new GPS Pearl, with Vodafone supplying the navigation software. Africa remains a big part of RIM’s game, especially considering the recent launches in Madagascar, Ghana and Uganda. For anyone in the neighbourhood, you can get more info here.

BlackBerry 8820 coming to T-Mobile?, Feb 07

T-Mobile 8820The rumors are a-flying of T-Mobile getting the Wi-Fi BlackBerry that graced AT&T’s shelves back in September. The BlackBerry 8820 is expected around March 5th., just a little under a month away, and should be compatible with T-Mobile’s Hotspot @Home and likely the Talk Forever program they’re testing out in Dallas and Seattle.

mig33 comes to BlackBerry, Feb 07

mig33I hadn’t heard of them until now, but mig33 is a social networking site for mobiles that allows photo sharing, cheap international SMS and calls, but most of all, it incorporates multiple chat services in its handheld client. There are some pretty cool functions there, but really, how can you not endorse such a cute robotic mascot? I mean, c’mon. Look at that thing. More info on the BlackBerry client here, or you can head on over to http://wap.mig33.com to get your OTA download. Thanks Hayden!

New treatment for BlackBerry thumb, Feb 07

XtensorThe Xtensor is a new contraption aiming to rehabilitate chronic gamers, golfers and BlackBerry users through the clever use of elastic bands. By extending and retracting fingers, the user works all the forearm muscles related to BlackBerry thumb, and at $39.00, it’s about as cheap as do-it-yourself physiotherapy’s going to get. If you’re looking for some more sporty BlackBerry handwear, you might want to check these out. Thanks Josep!

RIM spends a cool million on patent reform lobbying, Feb 07

A post on CNN Money noted that RIM spent a grand total of $890,000 in 2007 on lobbying the U.S. government for patent reform legislation as well as regulatory rules to make handsets more accessible to those with hearing disabilities. Patent reform is a little complicated, but the basic idea is to change the US patent laws so that patents are awarded to the first person to submit paperwork — a system which is common outside the US — rather than to the person who invented the concept. While this sounds backward, it has the potential to reduce the number of frivolous legal battle surrounding patents. RIM has certainly had issues with patents in the past, so the spending hardly comes as a surprise.

Survey says BlackBerry stability number one concern for legal IT, Feb 06

JudgeAnother bit from the LegalTech show is a survey from BoxTone indicating that a “significant majority (65 percent) said the [BlackBerry] platform has transitioned from an individual productivity tool to a mission-critical service”, resulting in the implementation of IT administration and monitoring tools like BoxTone. Maybe it’s just because I’m in Ottawa, but the number one demorgraphic for BlackBerry always felt like govenment employees, but clearly the legal field has its own entrenched usership as well.

WorldMate Live updated, Feb 06

WorldMate LiveThe BlackBerry travel companion of choice just shot off their first newsletter, announcing a few changes to WorldMate Live. For one, the Outlook plugin has been smoothed over with improved compatibility with older versions of Outlook. The biggest change is being able to add and edit itinerary items right from your BlackBerry. This was my primary gripe with WorldMate Live, and it’s great to see the improvement made. It wasn’t even much of a problem, but really just a gap in function. Another cool feature is the ability to CC WorldMate Live for travel confirmations so that bookings are immediately reflected in your itinerary without needing to put it all in through Outlook. This is a great app that helps you keep all of your travel plans together in one spot, so go ahead and sign up for free, and if you’re already hooked up, you can grab the Gold subscription here, which includes flight alerts, status and schedules, along with a handy travel directory and 24/7 customer support.
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GyPSii launches BlackBerry client, Feb 06

GyPSiiEarlier this week social networking site GyPSii launched their client for BlackBerry, following in the footsteps of its Symbian and Windows Mobile counterparts. The biggest thing that sets GyPSii apart from your everyday Facebook knockoff is location awareness using mobiles, even without GPS units. You can geotag pictures, videos, text, find friends, and share points of interest using GyPSii. Interested? You can get started for free over here, and download the client over the air from http://gypsii.com/m.

Telus aids breast cancer research with pink BlackBerry 8130, Feb 06

The pink BlackBerry 8130A poster on the Pinstack forums noted that Canadian operator Telus has launched a pink BlackBerry Pearl 8130, and they have announced that they will donate $25 to Rethink Breast Cancer with every purchase. Rethink Breast Cancer is a charity aimed at educating young people about breast cancer as well as donating to research and support programs. Pretty much everyone has released a red 8130, but this is the first new pink theme since Verizon released theirs a couple weeks ago. It also comes with a swanky pink chameleon theme.

Reserve a car with BlackBerry, Feb 06

Qdrivium logoQdrivium, a company specializing in ground transportation consulting, has announced that users are now able to make car reservations directly from their BlackBerry. In addition to reservations, the Qdrivium service provides cost-management features like budget alerts and fare ceilings, real-time reporting of all car service charges, support for multiple rate and single rate books, and quite a bit more. Not sure how it compares to WorldMate Live’s car rental features, but odds are if you’re looking for a dedicated solution, this is it.

How to save on battery life, Feb 05

BatteryJust stumbled on this solid guide to conserving battery life on mobiles. One of BlackBerry’s big selling points is killer battery life, but that’s no excuse to get lazy - you can stretch it even farther by following some of these easy-to-remember tips. A no-brainer is to turn off extra wireless functions like Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, GPS or dual-mode roaming on the World Edition, and turning off vibrating alerts.

Some lesser-known tips include only using your BlackBerry in areas where you have a strong signal, since more battery life is used up trying to establish connections over weak signals. Initializing a new battery with 5-6 hours of juice before using it should also increase the maximum capacity in the long run. The guide also suggests cleaning battery contacts every once in awhile in order to keep power transfer optimized. There’s plenty more there, so take a look.

Bluetooth Aircharge available for BlackBerry, Feb 05

Air Blue ProAircharge announced BlackBerry support last summer for their credit transaction system, and have now launched a Bluetooth version, the Air Blue Pro, for even more flexibility. The $495 unit lets your swipe credit cards, print receipts, transmit data to your BlackBerry then out over the cellular network to complete sales. It looks like the system is limited to American networks for the time being, unfortunately.

Zimbra offers BlackBerry support, Feb 05

The latest version of Zimbra, a piece of open-source e-mail server software recently bought by Yahoo!, now supports BlackBerry Enterprise Servers. Zimbra’s been rocking Windows Mobile, Palm, Symbian, and iPhone devices before version 5.0, but it’s bound to take awhile to develop something of that magnitude without any help from RIM. Of course all the talk about Microsoft acquiring Yahoo! seriously leaves Zimbra’s future in question. You can download a trial of the BlackBerry connector here, the mobile client here, and the server software here.

BlackBerrys aid in speedy cardiac treatment, Feb 05

MedicalThe fine folks at St. Mary’s Regional Cardiac Care Centre and Waterloo Region Emergency Medical Service have set up a new system where an on-scene cardiogram can be sent to a BlackBerry at the hospital and lets the patient skip emergency and get right into the cardiac treatment area. In one instance, the new system beat the worldwide average for dealing with these kinds of medical emergencies by 13 minutes. When an artery’s blocked, every second can be a godsend.

“It’s such a critical time frame,” said Renner, one of four interventional cardiologists who do angioplasty at St. Mary’s. “You want to get the artery open as quickly as possible. It’s all about speed.” The longer the part of the heart that is affected by the blockage is deprived of a blood supply, the more damage to the heart muscle and the greater the risk to the patient’s survival and quality of life. A balloon-tipped catheter can clear the blockage and keep the artery open with the insertion of a wire stent. “We’ve had some cases where you essentially almost abort the heart attack and have almost no damage at all.”

This is the first program of its kind in Canada, so once its been proven to work, maybe we can see it adopted elsewhere. Thanks Hayden!

WinScribe unveils new component, Feb 05

WinScribe, producers of dictation software, has announced that they’ll be unveiling the BlackBerry component of the WinScribe Mobility Suite today. For those in the neighbourhood, the BlackBerry software will be demonstrated at the ALM Legal Tech New York show, held in the Hilton New York Hotel February 5-7th. WinScribe will demo it at their booth (#2109/2111) every day of the conference, and at the BlackBerry booth (#2008/2010) from 10 AM to 5 PM on February 6th. WinScribe features the ability to both provide audio to a transcription team, complete with document attachments to ensure accuracy, as well as local recording to be pushed out at a later date if reception is poor.

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