New software from Research in Motion (RIM) will enable all BlackBerry wireless applications to run on smartphones from rival handset makers.
RIM will offer the software later this year, initially for a select number of devices running the newest version of the Microsoft operating system for mobile devices, Windows Mobile 6.0. (See our Windows Mobile 6.0 review.)
The new software targets businesses that want to provide their employees with a wider selection of handsets, and also consumers who don't want to switch handsets to access the BlackBerry service. It will appear as an icon on the screen of the Mobile Windows device. When clicked, it will load BlackBerry applications, with the familiar user interface of a BlackBerry smartphone, and users can easily toggle between the two platforms, according to RIM.
The devices will connect to BlackBerry servers for email, instant messaging, calendar and address book applications via the BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) or the BlackBerry Internet Service (BIS).
This will not be the first time that RIM has attempted to put its software on other manufacturers' devices. Through its BlackBerry Connect programme, RIM has been offering access to its wireless email services on devices manufactured by Nokia and Palm. But the service is focused mostly on providing access to BlackBerry email through the devices' existing applications.
Pricing details for the new BlackBerry software were not immediately available.
The announcement comes after RIM suffered a multi-hour network failure last week, frustrating BlackBerry users in North America.