updated 10:30 am EST, Wed February 13, 2008
BlackBerry Home Server
Research in Motion and its partners have used the Mobile World Congress show to unwrap a pair of key updates for its BlackBerry smartphones, including its first "push" e-mail service for the home. Known as a Unite Server, the feature turns an always-on computer at home into a conduit for RIM's signature e-mail service. Instead of connecting directly to RIM's master servers, a phone speaks to the user's own computer. Running the service can potentially improve access to mail for personal users and serves as a drop-off point for important e-mail besides the phone itself. The Unite Server also helps manage music, photos, and videos transferred to the BlackBerry, RIM says.
The service launches first with Spain through subscribers to Telefonica's BlackBerry plans. Unite Servers should also be available from providers in Germany and other countries throughout the year, though North American plans if any are currently unavailable.
Simultaneously, Alcatel-Lucent today announced with RIM that it has developed a solution that should let BlackBerry owners choose prepaid service while still having access to BlackBerry mail. The feature would track the volume of mail in real-time and charge accordingly; this would let owners roaming outside of their home countries or only occasional users receive "push" mail without the same costs as a full-fledged subscriber. Neither Alcatel-Lucent nor RIM has said when they expect prepaid service to be available, though the feature is largely dependent on individual carriers.