This week the wireless industry got together in Barcelona for the annual Mobile World Congress. I’m sure plenty goes on at this event, as we’ve seen plenty of dispatches from our favorite correspondents. A number of them relate to BlackBerry, which means we’ve got a pretty full News From The Wire this week. In fact, the lead item is a pretty big deal if you run or work for a small- to mid-sized business.
RIM announces BES Express
Using BlackBerry Enterprise Server brings many advantages for small and medium sized business. It allows for wireless syncing of email, calendar, contacts, notes, and tasks, so that a user’s BlackBerry has the same information as her computer. It also hooks them into the business’s server, so that they have access to important data on the go.
Part of the problem with BES, however, is the price. Not only do IT departments need to host the Exchange server, or otherwise outsource it, but the business also has to pay more to the wireless carrier. That is, while a BIS unlimited data plan typically costs $30, BES costs $40 per month. At Mobile World Congress RIM announced BES Express, which stands to save small and medium businesses a little money.
Using free software, businesses can host a BES server for relatively cheap, while allowing their users to run on BIS plans. That allows for $10 per month in savings up front — the downgrade from BES to BIS from the wireless carrier. Then there are the savings from the hosting end.
It looks like RIM will charge $5 per user per month, but it still seems to save businesses both up-front and recurring costs. I wonder what hosted exchange companies think of this. Also from MWC: RIM previews Webkit-based browser. We’ve been waiting for this for a while. The demo looked smooth. Who’s not excited about this?
Verizon and Skype partner for calls over 3G
It still pains me to go back into the archives and see this headline: Skype headed to BlackBerry in 2009. That was in January. We went through the next 11 and a half months of 2009 and heard nary a word about a Skype application for BlackBerry. That changed in a big way this week, at least for Verizon BlackBerry customers.
The carrier announced a partnership with Skype which will allow its subscribers to make free Skype-to-Skype, which will route over its voice and 3G networks. These calls will not count against a user’s minutes, though a data plan is obviously required.
In addition to Skype-to-Skype calls, users can also place international calls with the application, again not using any carrier minutes. Appropriate Skype Out credit is the only requirement, and rates start fairly low — from what I’ve seen 2.1 cents per minute at the lowest. That’s a huge perk to Verizon users who have friends and family, or otherwise conduct business, overseas. The application should be available in March, and will work with almost all of Verizon’s BlackBerry lineup: Storm and Storm 2, Curves 8330 and 8350, 9930 World Edition, and the Tour.
I presume the Tour 9650 will be included once launched.
Tip of the week: Control your impulsive emailing with Unsend Email. The best of us send impulsive emails from time to time, only to regret it shortly thereafter. This application stores your email in queue for 30 second to 5 minutes, so you can pull it back if you think better of it.
Of OS 5.0 and a delayed BlackBerry Tour 9650
Whenever we hear rumors of a release date, we always view it with skepticism. It’s not that the sources are unreliable. Typically we don’t even consider listening to a projected release date from a source we don’t trust, because we can make up projections ourselves in that case. But this one came from Salomondrin, and we like that dude. He spoke of an early February release for the Tour 9650, and clearly that hasn’t happened. So what gives?
As the man himself explains, it’s because Verizon hasn’t released OS 5.0 for the Tour 9630 yet. They haven’t yet approved a build, and don’t want to face a perturbed crowd of Tour users who feel slighted because they released the follow-up device less than a year after the original. Back in October Verizon released OS 5.0 to Storm 9530 users, in anticipation of releasing the Storm 2 not long thereafter. Same deal this time So we won’t see the Tour 9650 until we see OS 5.0 for the 9630. How long will that be?
Sprint already has it, so it doesn’t seem too too far off. Hopefully only a few more weeks. It won’t turn the trackball into a trackpad, and it won’t make the processor run faster, but it’s an appreciated upgrade from OS 4.7. Speaking of Verizon, they’re apparently no longer selling the 8330.
That makes sense. With the Curve 8530 on shelves and the Tour 9650 not far away, it works. I’m still kind of hoping they hold a bunch of inventory and sell the 8330 cheap when they launched the rumored prepaid BlackBerry plan next month.
T-Mobile to get the Storm2?
This is an absolute rumor, but it still warrants a mention. According to BBLeaks, T-Mobile plans to hold a meeting on March 3, which could be to discuss the carrier getting the Storm2. Again, this is just a guess on the part of BBLeaks, but the rumor of T-Mo getting the Storm2 has circulated, so their March 3 meeting does raise some eyebrows. We’re still a couple of weeks away, though, so we’ll have to sit tight until then.
That is, unless someone picks up a more solid source in the matter. Twitter client of the week: This week I reviewed the official BlackBerry Twitter app. It works well enough, and I love the DM integration with my messages app. It does need some work, but I don’t think much. Hardcore users will still probably prefer UberTwitter, which is now in Beta-7.
The weekly links
In weeks like this, where we get a ton of big stories, I like to wrap up News From The Wire with a series of other interesting links that you might enjoy.
- Adobe AIR coming to BlackBerry. As we saw in the Webkit browser preview, perhaps Flash will be coming soon, too.
- A bullet for my BlackBerry. In what was termed an accidental shooting at a restaurant, a man’s gun discharged, sending a bullet into his girlfriend’s leg. Only it didn’t go into her leg. Instead, the BlackBerry in her pocket stopped it. It reminds me of the movie Problem Child, when John Ritter’s fossilized prune stops a bullet aimed at his heart.
- Looking for headphones? Cooper reviews V-Moda Vibe In-Ear BlackBerry headphones. They sound killer.
- Kids get Blackberrys, start sexting. Apparently BBM facilitates their dirty talk.
- We learned about the new Sirius XM BlackBerry app earlier this month. Brad from Berry Reporter gives us the review.