Research In Motion on Monday debuted a new, long-awaited Web browser for its BlackBerry devices, touting the Webkit-based application as easier, faster and better at rendering Web sites.
The new browser, which will be available this year, was unveiled by CEO Mike Lazaridis at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain.
RIM has long been criticized for its browser, which reviewers (including this one) have said is out-of-date compared to competing handsets that use Apple, Google and Palm operating systems.
The new browser is key to preserving the company's large consumer adoption base, which has been growing thanks to two-for-one carrier deals and despite an overall lack of innovation in software from the company.
Four months ago, RIM debuted the Storm2, an update to its fully touchscreen BlackBerry, which made all the right moves on the hardware front but still felt behind in terms of software.
(In my review of the device, I said the company had won the battle but lost the war. Obviously, the fight is not yet over.)
The Canadian company last year bought browser specialist Torch Mobile in a bid to revamp its browser.
RIM also announced a new, free software platform for small-business users called the BlackBerry Enterprise Server Express, intended for corporate customers and SMBs with fewer than 200 BlackBerry users who want enterprise-grade security and manageability.
The new server software synchronizes BlackBerry smartphones with Microsoft Exchange or Microsoft Windows Small Business Server, and is available for free download.
BES Express works with Microsoft Exchange 2010, 2007 and 2003 and Microsoft Windows Small Business Server 2008 and 2003.
The details of BES Express:
- Wirelessly synchronize their email, calendar, contacts, notes and tasks
- Manage email folders and search email on the mail server remotely
- Book meetings and appointments, check availability and forward calendar attachments
- Set an out-of-office reply
- Edit Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint files using Documents To Go
- Access files stored on the company network
- Use mobile applications to access business systems behind the firewall
For IT administrators, BlackBerry Enterprise Server Express also offers:
- Runs on the same physical or virtual server as the Microsoft mail server or on its own server.
- BlackBerry Enterprise Server Express is also certified for use with VMware ESX
- Over 35 IT controls and policies, including the ability to remotely wipe a smartphone and enforce and reset passwords
- A Web-based interface that allows remote administration and makes it easy to install the software, connect BlackBerry smartphones and apply usage policies