Viigo teases with project Tango, featuring audio, Feb 14

Hrmmm… Viigo’s launched a teaser site for WES, with a very interesting graphic… What’s under that red veil, just beneath the WES 2008 channel… does that say Audio? Audio. For real? Are we talking podcasts, here? Could those clever dudes at Viigo have figured out a way to get files bigger than 5 megs to our BlackBerrys? Or maybe they’ve been in cahoots with RIM and are going to be capitalizing on much-rumored streaming audio support… It’s exciting stuff, but we’ll have to wait until WES to find out. Just below it looks like a stocks/finance channel, and beneath that travel, maybe? If Viigo’s staying free, it’s going to be an more killer app than it already is. It really isn’t just about RSS anymore. If you haven’t check it out, download the latest version for free over here.

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.

Balsillie gives a nod to enterprise social networking, Feb 14

Jim-dogA gem out of Barcelona is a comment from RIM co-CEO Jim Balsillie endorsing social networking for enterprise, as it could seriously benefit carriers’ data revenue.

And change is afoot elsewhere too, according to Balsillie, who said a B2B [business to business] social-networking revolution is coming that will bring networking benefits to the enterprise and also help drive data usage. “Once social networking becomes a B2B phenomenon — not unlike IM and texting — I believe every single social-networking user will want a data plan,” he told the Mobile World Congress audience.

The Facebook application was obviously a nod to the current social network of choice, but no doubt a business-oriented one like Plaxo that is fully accessible on BlackBerry would be a boon to RIM’s massive enterprise customer base. Maybe there’s something in the works…? Thanks Stefano!

European data rates threaten to get capped, Feb 14

European service providers are set for a bit of a kick in the pants after an EU official made some bold statements regarding handheld data rates at GSMA this week.

[Viviane Reding, European Commission’s information minister] said: “Sending text messages or downloading data via a mobile phone while in another EU country should not be substantially more expensive for a consumer than sending text messages or downloading data at home. This is the logic of the borderless single market which we in Europe agreed to create already 50 years ago. Higher retail charges abroad must be justified by additional cost of operators, or they will have to disappear.”

To back up the talk, Reding is threatening to impose a cap on wireless data prices that European wireless carriers are allowed to charge, unless they voluntarily drop the rates by July 1st. Bad news for carriers, good news for consumers.

Alcatel-Lucent to develop prepaid tracking app, Feb 14

Alcatel-Lucent has announced that they are developing an application that will track voice and data usage for prepaid users. The app compares current usage to the amount remaining, which will hopefully keep the number of overage charges to a minimum. The company will integrate the application with the networks of operators where the application will be used. The aim for the partnership is to increase BlackBerry use in developing markets. This isn’t the first time RIM and Alcatel-Lucent has joined forces, and their ongoing partnership has already increased usage in Eastern Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

BluFlo launches SCADA solution for BlackBerry, Feb 14

BluFlo has announced the release of a SCADA application for BlackBerry. SCADA is a system for measuring and controlling large-scale industrial systems, by bringing data from a bunch of monitoring stations to one central computer. BluFlo’s solution works with any SCADA setup that uses the Modbus protocol. All data is sent via secure connection to BluFlo’s servers where it can be viewed over the web, or the data can be sent to an internal server if the user prefers. The application also features user defined registers, archive definitions, control limits, and alarms. Combined with something like the OtterBox, this could come to be a must-have for industrial engineers.

BlackBerry Unite! launch imminent?, Feb 13

Word from the Mobile World Conference points to an impending BlackBerry Unite! launch on Telefonica in Spain. Telefonica was the first in line to get it when Unite! was announced over the Fall, but there’s still been no sign of it outside of a few leaked shots. If something were to come out, it’s long overdue, but it also wouldn’t be surprising if the whole thing was held off until WES in May. Whenever it does launch, BlackBerry Unite! software will offer small group BlackBerry administration, including security, monitoring, document and multimedia sharing for up to 5 BlackBerrys. One morcel from the news states that it will allow for push e-mail to the users running under the software. More info on Unite! at RIM’s minisite. Thanks Hayden!

nuTsie music service coming to BlackBerry, Feb 13

Melodeo has announced that their music service nuTsie will be coming to BlackBerry in the spring. nuTsie allows users to upload their iTunes playlists — not the songs themselves, just the metadata associated with them — to nuTsie and then stream the music to their phone or PC. The songs are streamed from the nuTsie servers rather than the user’s PC so the music is always guaranteed to be available. The obvious downside is, of course, that all the music in your library might not be present. nuTsie also offers features like sharing playlists with friends, lists of similar artists, and even a partnership with LyricFind to browse song lyrics. The project has been in beta for a while now and it’s nice to see the light at the end of tunnel.

Bbmnation: social networking for BlackBerry users, Feb 13

Some faces floating in mid-airIf you like BlackBerrys and social networking, Bbmnation might be just right for you. Designed by a night club promoter named Steven Ojo and his partner Alex Trumpower, the site launched just a couple days ago. Signing up requires inputting your name, email address and BlackBerry PIN. Adding another user as a friend allows you to view their PIN. The site isn’t entirely finished — there is some broken HTML and picture viewing isn’t fully implemented — but it’s usable for basic purposes. There are lots of social networking applications and services available for BlackBerry, but this is the only site I know of that is exclusive to BlackBerry. As a bonus, 75% of its user base so far seems to be attractive college students.

Remote Gateway gets pricetag, Feb 12

A sharp-eyed reader has spotted the recently-announced BlackBerry Remote Gateway for sale at $79.99. Looks like it was wrong to assume the accessory would be priced along the same lines of other Bluetooth adapters… In any case, the oldest compatible BlackBerry is the 8100, so anyone packing something older will be missing out on the stereo streaming action. We hear it’s not in stock yet, but obviously a widespread retail launch is imminent. Thanks Mike!

BBCool gets ready to Pownce, Feb 12

Since using Flock, I’ve been getting into the web 2.0 stuff, and Pownce is a great new way to get all of it together. The big thing about Pownce is that it ties a lot of great services together, like our Facebook fan page, our Flickr page which will be seeing some more action around WES-time, our YouTube profile featuring all of our video reviews, and lots of other stuff. Pownce is still really new, so there’s no RSS feeds available in the posting area, but we’re sure it’s on the way. As soon as it hits, you’ll be able to get the quick-and-dirty version of BBCool right on our Pownce profile. Oh, and they’ve got a mobile site available at m.pownce.com, if you’re looking for access right from your BlackBerry.

BlackBerry 8110 comes to Holland, Feb 12

Dutch carrier KPN has announced the release of the GPS Pearl in blue. The BlackBerry 8110 features all the goodies you expect with the most recent models: 3.5mm headphone jack, externally-acessible microSD memory card slot, SureType keypad and 2 megapixel camera. Now all it needs is a wooden clog-style holster and you’re set. For more info, check out KPN’s online store. Thanks Stefano!

RIM launches worst ad campaign ever, Feb 12

No, seriously. AdRants ripped into the new ad campaign from RIM and T-Mobile with good reason. The ads feature an improv comedy team in Chicago and another in New York telling jokes to each other over the phone. Unfortunately, the jokes are some of the most stilted, unfunny pieces of garbage I’ve ever had the misfortune of listening to. Highlights include off-key singing, a “joke” which consists of one performer completely flubbing the opening line, and one performer listing various accidents like “I bit my tongue” and “I bumped myself in the head” for no discernible reason. Even the audience didn’t laugh most of the time. Opinions differ on RIM’s usual marketing prowess, but there’s no doubt they can do better than this.

Remote Stereo Gateway due by end of month?, Feb 12

We’re getting word from the Mobile World Conference in Barcelona that we could be seeing the Remote Stereo Gateway before the end of February. If you missed the news frenzy about this, the Gateway hooks up to a stereo system and then allows you to wirelessly stream music from your BlackBerry to the stereo. There’s nothing official from RIM yet or any pricing information, so this is just a rumor at the moment. Also keep in mind that it’s a leap year, so RIM has a whole extra day before February ends.

Thanks Josep!

North American outage reported, Feb 11

AngerIs it just me, or are these happening a little more often than usual? Our buddies at Zenprise have given us the extent of the damage so far.

The issue was first reported at 12:20 p.m. PT. Zenprise diagnosed and tested issues on various networks to determine the cause of the outage. At 12:23 p.m. PT, Zenprise sent an email notification to its customers that BlackBerry service is down and the issue is with the BlackBerry network. Note: At about 12:30 p.m. PT, AT&T first learned there was a problem.

And straight from RIM…

* BlackBerry subscribers may be unable to send or receive messages. Subscribers may also be unable to register their device, roam in another location, or use other services such as Internet browsing.
* BlackBerry Internet Service subscribers may be unable to use the BlackBerry Internet Service web site or perform activities such as creating new accounts, accessing their internet mailbox, integrating third-party email accounts, or viewing email attachments.
* Devices may not receive new service books. BlackBerry Connect and BlackBerry-enabled devices that require a new PIN may be unable to receive the PIN.
* BlackBerry Enterprise Servers may be unable to connect to the BlackBerry Infrastructure.
* Wireless service providers and device resellers may be unable to use BlackBerry administration web sites or perform activities such as creating subscriber accounts or provisioning services for subscribers.

UPDATE: Judging by the deluge of delayed e-mails blinking away on my BlackBerry from last night, the problem looks resolved. Based on other reports, things started kicking back into gear between 7 and 8 PM last night. As for the reason, Jim Balsillie has stated that the outage was a result of a system upgrade.

Two free BlackBerry themes, Feb 11

ScribbleWhen I saw Ronen’s post on the two new free themes on mobile.blackberry.com for anything running OS 4.2, I was a bit surprised not to see the sketchy Scribble theme or the slick Today Plus, but still stuck with the old Sunday Funnies comic book theme. There might be some technical issues that need to be fixed before we can access these themes up in Canada (or maybe my BlackBerry’s just acting up), but until the site updates, there’s always themes at bPlay to peruse.

Ziplorer offers access to compressed files, Feb 11

ZiplorerRecently-launched from S4BB is Ziplorer, the software that lets you handle PKZIP and GZIP files on your BlackBerry. Bandwidth is at a premium on EDGE devices, so dealing with compressed files is a smart move if speed and data use are an issue. If it’s something you’re interested in, you can pick up Ziplorer right over here at 15% off until Feb 21st.

BlackBerry 8330 to have GPS, Feb 11

BlackBerry 8330It looks like those rumors of a CDMA Curve coming in the near future were well-founded. A nice little surprise at our first look with the BlackBerry 8330 reveals that this version of the Curve will be featuring GPS, just like its BlackBerry 8130 and 8830 brothers. No more word on release date, so we’ll sit on the “before WES” ballpark for now. Considering we’re seeing clear shots of a finished product, that doesn’t seem entirely out of the question. This is the last of the three BlackBerry tracks to hit CDMA carriers, so really the only thing that subscribers on that boat are waiting for are Wi-Fi-enabled BlackBerrys. Of course, we’re also left to think of what the BlackBerry 9030 will have in store when it hits shelves down the road…

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.

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?

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.

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