RIM Embraces Windows Mobile 6

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Blackberry maker Research In Motion announced today that it is developing a new BlackBerry application suite for devices running Windows Mobile 6, intended to offer a “virtual BlackBerry experience” including Web browsing, “push” email, address book, calendars, instant messaging, and even run third party BlackBerry applications. According to RIM, the BlackBerry suite will complement rather than replace existing Windows Mobile 6 functionality, and will appear as an icon on the screen just like any other third party application. Once launched, the BlackBerry application suite will launch and shift the device to the BlackBerry interface, although users will be able to switch back and forth between BlackBerry and Windows Mobile applications.

“This new software will provide a range of important benefits, including easier support of Windows Mobile-based devices within BlackBerry Enterprise Server environments, a consistent user interface for BlackBerry applications across various devices, and the ability to run third-party applications developed for the BlackBerry platform,” Mike Lazaridis, President and Co-CEO at Research In Motion, in a statement.

RIM’s move is intended to broaden the reach of RIM’s BlackBerry software, expanding its customer base to include users who want BlackBerry applications and services but who perhaps didn’t want to switch devices to get them, or whose organizations or businesses mandate use of Windows Mobile devices. Although the universe of devices which currently offer Windows Mobile 6 is small, the number is expected to grow significantly throughout 2007.

RIM anticipates its BlackBerry suite for Windows Mobile 6 devices will be offered “later this year”—skuttlebut says to look for it around September—and the company is working several mobile phone operators (including AT&T) to make the software available. RIM did not release any pricing details, and reports indicate no decision has been made whether the BlackBerry suite would be available as a paid download, or simply included with a subscription to BlackBerry service (which generally runs between $30 and $50 a month).

“The market for wireless email and other wireless applications is growing rapidly,” said Michael Woodward, AT&T’s Executive Director for Mobile Professional Solutions, in a release. “We view RIM’s broadening support for Windows Mobile, with new feature-rich and IT-friendly BlackBerry software, as another positive catalyst that will further expand the appeal of the BlackBerry platform with customers.”

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