Today, RIM hosted a new webcast, “BlackBerry for Business”. The highlights of this presentation were RIM’s upcoming cloud offerings and Playbook in the Enterprise.
Cloud Services Highlights:
As you well know, RIM currently offers most of its services via “cloud”. They are transferring around 15 Petabytes of data monthly. They have mentioned three services today.
1. BlackBerry Protect
RIM recently went to public beta with their BlackBerry Protect product in North and South America. It is a great product that enables you to remotely backup your data, locate your device and wipe. Today, RIM announced the beta will be extended to Europe, Middle East and Asia very soon. The BP public beta exceeded their expectations. With this product they are targeting individuals and small business owners.
2. BlackBerry Management Center
This is a new product that is targeted for SMEs who host their emails with ISPs, Google, Yahoo and such and want to manage their BlackBerry devices from a central location. This product will have features such as device lock, remote wipe, etc. The time frame was given as “later this year”.
3. BlackBerry Enterprise Service
This is another new offering from RIM. It will have feature set similar to BlackBerry Enterprise Server Express. It is a hosted BES solution, directly hosted by RIM. The basic offering will be for FREE (or as they called it in the presentation $0.). As a part of recent agreement with Microsoft, RIM will be offering this service to the upcoming Office365 customers. Also Microsoft is changing the pricing of BES service for current Business Productivity Online Service (BPOS) customers to $0 as well. RIM is getting more attractive to end users who can use ActiveSync freely on other platforms with this BlackBerry Enterprise Service offerings. We are expecting more partnerships with other providers to offer it to wider reach of customers. It will offer all the latest and greatest BES offers, including upcoming BlackBerry balance.
The service will go into closed beta in the next few months, then to open beta and a general release in late 2011.
After talking about the cloud offerings, the presentation moved onto the upcoming Playbook. There really isn’t anything new on this front, it is pretty much reiteration what they had shown in earlier presentations:
The first release of Playbook (Wifi only) will bring Personal, Bridge and VPN modes of connection. Interestingly, we were told Balance mode will be supported even on the wifi model very shortly after release:
When the models with mobile data connection, such as 3G, 4G, LTE, etc released, RIM will start supporting more features/capabilities, such as provisioning and IT policies. We have asked several questions that you are probably dying to know. First one was of course the release date. We got answer of “very soon” with a laughter. I don’t know if they were being sarcastic or rumors of March 27 still hold. Our bet is on April release. Also questions about release dates of other Playbook models went with “no comment”.
On a good note to enterprise admins, you will be able to get an IT policy update (without the need of a new MR or SP release) and allow/disallow BlackBerry bridge mode. This is a good news for security concerned admins.
As the release date coming near, we will continue to monitor what is going on with Playbook release. Hopefully RIM will not make us wait too much longer.
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