WM6 Devices To Gain 'Virtual BlackBerry' Support

Microsoft's Windows Mobile 6 platform got a boost on Monday when Research in Motion announced a new software suite that will provide phones running on WM6 with a "virtual" BlackBerry experience.

The software will be available later this year, and is set to feature e-mail, browsing, instant messaging and other capabilities. The app will also let phones take advantage of BlackBerry services, such as BlackBerry Enterprise Server, according to RIM.

The app will not transform a phone into a BlackBerry, per se. Instead, users will see an icon for the program on their screen. Clicking it will load a BlackBerry UI and a series of programs. Windows Mobile apps won't be affected and users will be able to switch between the two, according to RIM.

Of additional interest to developers is the suite's support for the BlackBerry Mobile Data System, a feature enabling the development of BlackBerry apps or the deployment of third-party BlackBerry products on Windows Mobile-based devices.

Peter O'Kelly, research director with Burton Group, said RIM is wise to target the WM6 platform.

"I think it's a very sensible move, and one probably driven by a combination of customer demand and competitive dynamics," O'Kelly wrote in an e-mail to Redmond Developer News. "RIM isn't in anything close to panic mode, given its technology, market share and long-term customer satisfaction, but it's nonetheless smart of RIM to be proactive in addressing market opportunities that aren't predicated on RIM controlling the full end-to-end (device, client and server software, and service) picture."

RIM claims a BlackBerry user base of 8 million. Earlier this month, the company reported that revenue for the fiscal year ending March 3 was $3 billion, compared to last year's $2.1 billion take.

About the Author

Chris Kanaracus is the news editor for Redmond Developer News.