Blackberry Compote

A bunch of Blackberry news and speculation.

RIM has been in and out of the news a lot over the past month, mostly for bad reasons. However, the Blackberry business (as of this writing, anyway) continues to roll along, and not all of the news is grim. The skinny:

Thing 1: As of Wednesday night all trading in RIM stock on the NASDAQ was halted due to the most recent (and probably final) nail in the patent infringement coffin. The judge invalidated the $450 million settlement that RIM was pinning its corporate hopes on - if the Waterloo gang wants to play in the states, they are probably going to have to settle for at least a billion dollars. That is if the holding company wants to settle at all - some observers think that NTP wants the whole ball of wax for themselves.

Thing 2: Some members of the tech community in the states have reported participating in focus groups with RIM to test a new "enhancement" of the Blackberry service. Oddly, this supposed upgrade actually cripples the handhelds, by making the user manually check for email instead of having it stream the the 'berry automatically. The fact that the simultaneous delivery of mail to a handheld from a desktop account is at the crux of the patent dispute would make one believe that this is the "backup plan" that RIM has been bandying about. I can't see a lot of people enjoying this if it comes to pass.

Thing 3: I had a chance to play with the new 8700 for a couple of days this week. I like the form factor a lot, in reminds me of a Treo. In fact, the whole unit has a definite Treo-like vibe to it, which makes me think that RIM's public dismissals of the Palm platform are not 100% on the up-and-up - you wouldn't take the time to make a cunningly similar device if you weren't a tad worried about the competition. Beyond the visuals (which I liked), the eye-opening increase in speed over my 7780 (which I really liked) and the annoyingly short battery life (which I did not like at all) the real news here was the pre-installed support for ... well, read the next thing.

Thing 4: If my 8700 test unit was any indication, new Blackberries will apparently ship with built-in support for Yahoo Messenger and AIM. This is a good thing - the current Blackberry Messenger is more than a bit of a dog. More to the point, a wireless messenger is only useful if you can integrate it with a matching desktop messenger. RIM must have noticed that everyone and their brother was using the 'berry to chat on Talk Google and decided to try and head that off at the pass. No word yet on retroactive updates for existing 'berries ... stay tuned.

Thing 5: RIM seems to be bowing to the revenue demands of their partnered wireless providers - the 8700 can download MP3 ring tones. However, with only 68MB of memory, there will not be a lot of such frivolities, and the unit remains a business device first and foremost. Having dealt with idiot ring tones in offices across the province, I can't say that this mindset is a bad thing.

Thing 6: Oddly, RIM's aversion to Bluetooth continues, despite more and more corporations becoming tweaked to include short-range wireless functions. The 7290 remains the only announced unit with BT, and as far as I know is not actually sold anywhere. Odd, that.

Posted: Fri - December 2, 2005 at 08:09 AM