Computerworld - NEW ORLEANS -- Research In Motion Ltd. kicked off the annual Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association (CTIA) conference here by announcing deals that could make the software behind its popular BlackBerry e-mail pager the de facto enterprise e-mail system for most of the world's cellular handset manufacturers, according to analysts and the company's competitors.
Mark Guibert, vice president of brand management at Waterloo, Ontario-based RIM, said the company has licensed its BlackBerry Connect software, which provides behind-the-firewall e-mail connectivity from enterprise Microsoft Exchange and Lotus Notes e-mail systems, to manufacturers of handheld devices which operate on Microsoft Corp. Pocket PC and Smartphone platforms.
Guibert said RIM has also licensed the same software to Symbian Ltd. in London, which develops operating systems for cell phone manufacturers. Last year, Espoo, Finland-based Nokia Inc. -- a part-owner of Symbian -- signed a separate licensing deal to use RIM e-mail software.
Ed Suwanjindar, a product manager with Microsoft's mobile devices division, said that High Tech Computer Co. (HTC) in Taiwan is expected to market both Pocket PC and Smartphone hardware incorporating the BlackBerry Connect software before year's end. Guibert said that mm02, a London-based mobile carrier, would be the first to support the HTC devices on its network, which operates on the General Packet Radio Service global standard.
Brian Jaquet, a spokesman for Handspring Inc. in Mountain View, Calif., a maker of handheld devices based on the Palm OS operating system, called the RIM licensing deals "important news" because they will lead to future integration of mobile e-mail systems and handheld computers and will help eliminate the need for users to carry multiple mobile devices.
"This will help get rid of the utility belt," that some road warriors use to carry a heavy load of cell phones, pagers and handhelds, Jaquet said.
Steve Poppe, the CIO at Cincinnati-based Roto-Rooter, a division of Chemed Corp., agreed that the RIM licensing deal could lead to development of all-in-one integrated mobile devices that handle a number of applications.
Isaac Ro, an analyst at Aberdeen Group Inc. in Boston, called the RIM licensing pacts "the big story" of the CTIA show. Ro predicted that Good Technology Inc. in Sunnyvale, Calif, which offers a similar enterprise e-mail system, would soon follow in RIM's path. Handspring's Jaquet called the possibility of partnerships between Good and Handspring "very intriguing."
With a nod to RIM, Sprint PCS announced plans to start marketing a Pocket PC made by Tokyo-based Hitachi Ltd. that features a keyboard modeled on the popular thumb-operated BlackBerry keyboard, according to Jason Guesman, the company's director of business
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