Google targets business users with BlackBerry connector

Beta software promises to make it easy to run Google Apps on the popular smartphone

Google Inc. is looking to pull more business users into its hosted Google Apps fold by making it easier for BlackBerry users to use Gmail and Google Calendar.

The company late today unveiled the Google Apps Connector for BlackBerry Enterprise Server, which is now in beta and slated to be available in July.

The connector is designed to make it easier for people with BlackBerries to access hosted applications like Gmail, Google Calendar and Contacts. The new tool also integrates features in the Google applications with built-in BlackBerry applications, allowing users to, for instance, receive Gmail messages via the BlackBerry smartphone's built-in email client.

Dan Olds, an analyst at Gabriel Consulting Group Inc., called this a smart move for a company eager to bulk up its business presence.

"This is going to make it a lot easier for BlackBerry people to use Gmail accounts and Google calendar," he said. "I think this is a big market for Google. If they're going to offer Gmail and other applications, it's definitely in their best interests to make them run on as many devices as possible, and BlackBerry is a big one. We know they want to get into the corporate market more and become sort of an enterprise replacement for Microsoft and Exchange. This gives them a more compelling story toward this end."

Olds also said a lot of people will find it helpful to have their calendars automatically updated on their BlackBerries when they're updated on their computers, and vice versa. "This is just going to make it easier on people," he said. "That's a handy thing. Anything you do in Google calendar gets into your BlackBerry, and your contacts will be synced as well. It's just helpful."

Raju Gulabani, a product management director at Google, noted in a blog post this afternoon that engineers have been working hard to make sure that using Google Apps on BlackBerries is an easy transition for corporate IT administrators.

"Admins are given full control of the solution and can continue to manage BlackBerry smartphones using BlackBerry Enterprise Server," he wrote. "Google Apps Connector installs on BlackBerry Enterprise Server, connecting it to the Google Apps cloud and synchronizing e-mail, calendar and contacts for all BlackBerry smartphone users."

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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