A Global Blackberry
It's always a little confusing when companies play Technology Alphabet Soup. So allow me to translate the importance of an announcement from Research In Motion this week about the new Blackberry for Verizon Wireless and Sprint-Nextel.
In the U.S., Verizon and Sprint phones operate on a technology known as CDMA. In most other countries, the standard is GSM technology (which is also what AT&T Wireless/Cingular and T-Mobile uses in the U.S.) Basically, what that means is that your Sprint and Verizon phones don't work outside of the U.S. This new device, called the Blackberry 8830, incorporates both technologies, which means that your phone will still operate on the CDMA network here in the states but will roam on the GSM network while traveling abroad.
The phones still require plans for voice and data services and there's a premium access charge for being able to retrieve e-mail in other countries, compared to the service plans for access solely in the U.S.
This is important to note for two reasons: 1) Blackberry users who travel abroad regularly now have more choices in service providers because the incompatibility issue goes away. 2) Earlier this week, RIM said it would make the popular Blackberry software available on non-Blackberry devices - such as Palm's Treo - that run on the Windows Mobile 6 operating system. Critics quickly pointed out that the bulk of the company's revenue comes from sales of the devices. Apparently, raising the bar on the devices is one way RIM can keep folks interested in both the software and the handsets.
One final thought: If the company hopes to maintain its dominance when it comes to mobile e-mail, it helps to also make sure that glitches in the service - such as the one that left Blackberry users without access to mail for hours last week - remain a problem of the past. As readers have pointed out, there are many other options now - such as a product called GoodLink - for a mobile professional who needs to stay connected. One person noted on my blog entry about the outage last week, "Treo and Good link rule."
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