Technology

Few Links for BlackBerry Connect


By Steve Wildstrom

TECH & YOU PODCAST

Reader Domenic Armano writes: Research in Motion (RIMM) and Palm (PALM) announced that they were developing software called BlackBerry Connect that would enable Palm-powered devices to connect to a BlackBerry enterprise server. I have searched high and low, and even called RIM and Palm to get an update on this software, which would enable much needed flexibility. Do you or anyone on your team have any information on the release date or reason for the delay?

BlackBerry Connect, the software that's supposed to allow BlackBerry services to run on non-Research in Motion wireless devices, is a classic case of vaporware: software that's announced but never seems to materialize -- at least in the U.S.

As originally announced more than two years ago, Blackerry Connect was a licensing arrangement to provide BlackBerry software for Palm-based products, later expanded to include Windows Mobile and the Symbian operating system, which is widely used on European wireless handsets.

PALM READING. So far, however, the results have been very disappointing. In North America, BlackBerry service remains available only on Research in Motion's own hardware. Versions of BlackBerry Connect exist for Windows Mobile and Symbian, and it's available on Windows Mobile Pocket PC Phone Edition and Smartphone products in Europe and Asia. But no carrier is yet offering it in the U.S.

The Palm story is especially sad. The Treo 600 and 650 would seem ideal candidates for BlackBerry service. But PalmSource, the software part of the Palm business, struggled with the project without ever shipping a working application. Development has now been taken over by Palm Inc., the hardware company, but it's still far from clear when BlackBerry Connect will be available for the Treo.

UPDATE: Research in Motion announced on Sept. 28 that BlackBerry Connect will be available on the Symbian-based Nokia 9300 Communicator when it's made available by Cingular in November.

Wildstrom is Technology & You columnist for BusinessWeek. You can contact him at techandyou@businessweek.com


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