BlackBerry to land in Russia, Mar 04

RIM has finally secured a toehold in Russia after a lot of wrangling with The Federal Security Service, the successor to the Soviet-era KGB. The FSB has been resistant to allowing the phones into Russia without first getting access to the codes RIM uses to encrypt data. An unidentified source told a Russian newspaper that RIM had refused to hand over the codes, so it’s unclear exactly what compromise was made. Regardless, Russian telecom Mobile TeleSystems will be importing 7,800 handsets, and another company, VimpelCom, will be importing an undisclosed amount. It wasn’t mentioned which specific model would be imported, but when this first came up last November it was supposed to be a BlackBerry 8700.

BlackBerry Cool Podcast: Episode 19, Feb 29

Magmic and MSCMobility are on the Exhibitor Spotlight for the week of February 22nd., but there’s still the week’s news. Take a listen!

Special Biweekly Contest: Design a BlackBerry Skin, Feb 22

Make your best skin for the BlackBerry 8800, Pearl or Curve, and get it made by DecalGirl! Lots of other goodies for the winner, including FlipSide, skins, games and themes!

New software offers POI zones and notifications, Mar 04

Perdiemco just announced an interesting location-based service that sends SMS messages to GPS-enabled BlackBerry and Windows Mobile handsets when they enter a certain zones are around points of interest determined on Google Maps. Perdiemco Location and Tracking can be handy for notifying parents when their kids are going somewhere they shouldn’t be, or if guests are close to arriving, and plenty of other applications. For a closer look, check out PLT7’s manual. To give it a shot, you can download the installer here. Thanks Josep!

Exhibitor Spotlight: BoxTone, Mar 04

A big name in BES monitoring, BoxTone features a great module-based system so admins can pick and choose what will suit their enterprise best. Like most monitoring solutions, BoxTone aims to reduce workload on IT staff by empowering help desk personnel to solve problems quickly and efficiently, as well as providing the tools to solve bigger BES problems. They’ve recently announced their latest version at the Gartner Wireless and Mobile Summit, featuring “advanced BoxTone SmartMP(TM) technology for true user service-level management through real-time transaction flow monitoring; and the first modular platform based on IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) industry standards, creating a comprehensive Mobile User Management solution.” We’ll be talking with BoxTone on this week’s podcast to explain what that actually means, so keep an ear out this Friday.

Exhibitor Spotlight: Zenprise, Mar 04

If you’ve listened to our podcasts, you’ve probably heard of Zenprise. They create software for monitoring and troubleshooting BlackBerrys on an enterprise scale. Their software monitors BES, carrier availability, Active Directory health, network performance, and a great deal more, as well as alerts the correct staff when a problem is noticed. They just announced Zenprise 3.3, which enhances detection of user-specific errors and more general carrier issues, and also adds flexibility over which system their softwares will monitor.

Mobile phones less important than mobile services?, Mar 04

Gartner LogoGartner opened their 11th annual Mobile and Wireless Summit today by saying that phones are becoming less and less important, while platforms and services increase in value. Nick Jones, a distinguished analyst at Gartner, said that in the enterprise sector, BlackBerry will battle it out with Nokia and Windows Mobile — and, sometime down the road, Google’s Android — to offer more services and advertising. He created a chart comparing some of the top players’ strengths in areas like unique services, user-created content, advertising, networking, and location-based services. RIM is strangely absent from the chart, but it’s an interesting look at how companies like Microsoft and Nokia stack up against social networking sites in the mobile sector.

Uptime and Downtime, Mar 03

BBCoolThere was a pretty cool editorial posted on Slashdot on service downtime, citing BlackBerry outages over the last few months. The big question that the editorial asks is “why don’t we expect more?” It’s a tough nut to crack, but a lot of it revolves around the precedent set by service providers and available alternatives.

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Exhibitor Spotlight: WorldMate, Mar 03

WorldMate LiveWorldMate Live is just about the greatest travel companion you can get for BlackBerry, and best of all, it’s free. Combined with a web client, you can create itineraries, check world clocks, weather, flight status and more. They offer a second-tier Gold membership that unlocks some of WorldMate’s finer features for the regular globetrotter. For a closer look, check out our review. Oh, and we’ll be talking with WorldMate this week on the podcast, so stay tuned!

Viigo completes server upgrades, Mar 03

Noticed your Viigo feeds have been lagging for the last little while? Yep, mine too. Well, Viigo has upgraded their servers recently to speed up the process. No new software is required, but if you find there isn’t much change, try closing down Viigo through the menu and booting it up again - it should work like a charm.

RIM sixth largest handset maker in 2007, Mar 03

According to Chosun, RIM was the sixth largest handset maker in global 2007 mobile phone sales. The news comes from an article in the Financial Times, which also noted that both Apple and China’s ZTE have squeezed their way into the top 10 biggest phone suppliers. The three pushed out Taiwan’s BenQ, China’s Bird, and France’s Sagem. The article goes on to say that mobile phone sales (including smartphones) rose 16% worldwide in 2007, to 1.2 billion devices, but a slightly smaller 10% is expected for 2008.

Customized home page with SyncWizard, Mar 03

SyncWizard is a new app that scans your PC for important data and creates a customized home page with your own content, viewable from any other PC or smartphone. You can upload calendars, contacts, pictures, music, bookmarks and more and the software will make it available online. There are a couple apps to sync your BlackBerry with Google, for instance, but this is one of the few that lets you access all of your PC stuff. Frankly, I’m not sure how comfortable I’d be with all my data online, no matter how secure it is, but it could be useful for some.

Exhibitor Spotlight: Conceivium, Mar 03

Next up in our exhibitor spotlight is Conceivium. They specialize in BlackBerry monitoring and management with tools like MobileAnalyzer and MobileMonitor Agent for BES, which they’ll be demoing at WES. Conceivium will also be showing off a remote management app called MobileControl and a remote terminal emulator called MobileTerm. There will, apparently, be a “major new product” that will be announced at WES, so keep your eyes peeled!

BlackBerry Cool Podcast: Episode 19, Feb 29

BBCoolSimon Sage runs down the news for the last week of February, including RIM’s latest patent filing, the new UK owner’s lounge, RIM’s climbing stock, as well as talking with Leuk Anderson about Forms2Mobile, and Nicholas Reichenbach from Magmic for our Exhibitor spotlight. You can grab the MP3 directly here, over iTunes, or from our podcast feed.

Weekly Contest reminder, Feb 29

BBCoolOur Design a BlackBerry Skin Weekly Contest is ongoing, featuring a great prize pack, including the creation of the winning skin design, 10 skins of your choice from DecalGirl, a copy of BlackBerry music player FlipSide, and any 3 games or themes from Bplay. We’ve only got some great submissions between two artists, so if you’ve got more than one design, feel free to e-mail completed PSD files to simon at blackberrycool dot com! (You can grab the templates back in the original contest post.) Since we’ve only got three entries so far, we’re throwing a cool $50 on top of the prize pack, just to get those designers out there a little more interested. Even the runner-up will get 2 games from Bplay and a skin from Decalgirl for their fine efforts.

Check out our entries to date behind the jump!

New slider patent from RIM, Feb 29

Yet another item from the fanciful land of patent filings: the “Hybrid Portrait-Landscape Handheld Device With Trackball Navigation and Qwerty Hideaway Keyboard”. It might be thought that the whole hideaway keypad and orientation detection thing has been done, but obviously not with a trackball, otherwise this filing wouldn’t have gone through. Considering another patent of this variety has been released recently, it’s easy to get enthusiastic about the idea of a BlackBerry with significant form factor changes. For the bookish, you can check out the whole patent filing here.

RIM owns Palm in enterprise sales, Feb 29

A graph showing an upward trendYeah, go figure, right? What we’re really wondering about is how the iPhone is shaping up. While they’ve only grabbed 5% of the corporate market, that’s a very happy 5%. RIM remains second to the iPhone, with 47% of customers saying they were “very satisfied” compared to the iPhone’s 59%. Still, RIM continues to dominate, with 73% market share in the enterprise sector and 77% of businesses planning on buying a new BlackBerry in the next 6 months. Apple dropped 3 points to 11% in the latter category, and Palm… well, Palm bid a tearful goodbye to the double digits.

Exhibitor Spotlight: Pyxis Mobile, Feb 29

Pyxis Mobile logoThe exhibitor spotlight continues with Pyxis Mobile. We haven’t heard from these guys in a while, but they continue to offer high-quality applications for users in the financial services industry. Their Application Studio allows users to configure, build, and deploy custom apps without the need for any IT staff. The applications can be configured for investment, insurance, and banking needs, giving end-users immediate access to enterprise data. Check ‘em out if you get the chance, and don’t forget to sign up for the Best of WES Awards if you’re going to be exhibiting.

Three RIM releases in Africa, Feb 29

Just as we thought, RIM is moving into Africa in a big way. They’ve partnered up with EMS and Celtel to release phones in Madagascar and Nigeria, and with EMS and Orange for a release in Botswana. Nigeria will be getting the 8100, 8300, and 8800, while Madagascar will be hooked up with just the 8800. Botswana will get the 8100 and the 8700g. Just a another example RIM’s continuing focus on the African market.

Sprint launches Simply Everything unlimited plan, Feb 28

SprintHooah, this is some plan. $99.99/month for, you guessed it, everything. “Unlimited voice, data, text, e-mail, Web-surfing, Sprint TV(SM), Sprint Music, GPS Navigation, Direct Connect(R) and Group Connect(R)” are all up for grabs. The catch? The unlimited data portion doesn’t apply to BES users, who will need to fork out at least $20 more. Boooo. Also, the plan doesn’t apply for international roaming or modem tethering, but that’s not such a huge surprise. It’s still a pretty sweet deal, especially for BIS customers. The plan will be available tomorrow, keep an eye over here for updates.

RIM wins Visto lawsuit in UK, Feb 28

GavelVisto’s been on RIM’s back since ‘06 for patent infringement, but it looks like the legal battle’s finally drawing to a close. The U.S. Patent Office stomped out a few of their objections on RIM’s use of certain e-mail synchronization technologies in September, and that was the first sign that things were going to get wrapped up soon. Now that this UK suit has been settled in RIM’s favour, parallel litigations ina Canada, the U.S. and Italy could very well follow precedent. That’s one less thing for RIM to worry about, but there’s never a shortage of patent lawsuits flying around.

Exhibitor Spotlight: Handmark, Feb 28

Handmark logoFor our next Exhibitor Spotlight we have Handmark, makers of the Pocket Express software we reviewed last September. Pocket Express is their flagship product, allowing users to view stocks, weather, general news, sports news, and great deal more from within the application. At WES, they’ll be focusing on that and its companion Pocket Express Travel Edition, which features travel services such as up-to-date flight information from the OAG. They’ll also be showcasing content from the Extras channel of Pocket Express and other tidbits from their online web portal.

160,000 recipes at your fingertips, Feb 28

BigOven logoBerryReview posted about a site called BigOven, which allows you to search and view a database of over 160,000 recipes directly from your phone. You simply head to the mobile version of the site, enter in your search terms, and select your recipe from the returned list. It includes a big picture of the finished product and, of course, detailed ingredient lists and instructions. The search function is pretty basic, but you can use the more robust search on the main site to build a list of favorites, which you can then access from the mobile site.

Another BlackBerry-centric social networking site, Feb 28

A user on our Facebook page posted about a new BlackBerry-centric social networking site called BlackBerry Ave. The site is designed from the ground up to be viewable on mobile browers, a bit like BBMnation. BlackBerry Ave. has the usual features of a social networking site like basic demographic information and interests, but has some unique features such as the ability to upload 1000 MB worth of files to share with other users. It also allows you to list your specific BlackBerry model and PIN. Definitely worth checking out if you just can’t get enough social networking.

RIM prepping Eclipse plug-in for developers, Feb 27

RIM’s latest developer newsletter revealed that developers will be able to get a look at an Eclipse plug-in not only at EclipseCon in March, but also at WES in May. For those not down with the programming side of things, Eclipse is an open-source development framework based on Java. Preliminary looks at the beta have been less than stellar among the traditionally open-source crowd, as RIM’s setting up their app to run on Windows and many Eclipse users stick to Linux and Mac. Eclipse support would really be throwing devs a bone if RIM actually opened up a bit, but we’ll have to see what the final version of the plug-in looks like before passing judgment.

Carbon-tracking software coming to BlackBerry, Feb 27

Carbon Hero is a cool project still in development, aiming to determine what modes of transportation you’re using via GPS and calculating the associated carbon usage. Although tested with GPS on Nokia smartphones already, the final product will be using a new European positioning system called Gallileo, which claims to be accurate to under a metre. BlackBerry support is underway, but Gallileo won’t be online until 2013, so it could still be awhile until we see a release. The big thing with Carbon Hero is that it will be largely automated, with as little user input as possible and simply providing the information about how much you’re ruining the planet. Talk about low maintenance guilt-tripping.

BlackBerry sales to improve in Taiwan?, Feb 27

Taiwan’s FlagAccording to The Washington Post, BlackBerry sales in Taiwan have suffered due to language issues, but things are looking up. Phones in Taiwan currently use Pinyin, which uses Latin characters to phonetically spell out the sounds that more complicated Chinese character sets like Zhuyin represent. No support for Zhuyin has been available, leading to disappointing sales of only 3,000 to 3,500 BlackBerrys in the region. RIM is scheduled to release two phones supporting Zhuyin in the second quarter of this year, and hopes to increase sales to 11,000 or higher. Asian character support has always been a trial for the computer industry, especially for cramped phone keyboards, but things definitely been improving for BlackBerry users.

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