BlackBerry: 'Blazingly fast' browser and 'super-apps' unveiled

MWC 2010: RIM showcases WebKit browser and targets SMEs with BES Express
Written by Natasha Lomas, Contributor

MWC 2010: RIM showcases WebKit browser and targets SMEs with BES Express

BlackBerry-maker RIM has given a glimpse of the next-generation of the BlackBerry web browser that will be based on WebKit technology.

The update has been on the cards since RIM acquired WebKit browser company Torch Mobile last summer.

RIM co-CEO Mike Lazaridis briefly demoed the browser during a keynote at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, telling delegates: "Last November we announced our plans for a WebKit browser, today I'm going to give you the first ever sneak peek at what we've been up to."

Lazaridis said the new browser will bring efficiency gains to consumers and operators - noting its faster panning, zooming and scrolling. He also said the browser scores 100 per cent on the Acid 3 test for "fidelity" in rendering the web.

"We replaced our rendering engine with WebKit - not only is it blazingly fast, it's also very network efficient," he said. "Our browser will do things consumers expect, the efficient way, the right way - a way that respects carriers' networks."

Network operators can currently support three BlackBerry browsing sessions for every one other smartphone browsing session, according to Lazaridis - who said consumers' appetite for data is leading to a network 'capacity crunch'.

Lazaridis also showed off apps designed to integrate with core phone functions such as email and calendar - dubbing them "super-apps".

"Super-apps are integrated with other apps, giving a seamless experience across the device. They're contextual - aware of things like your location and status," he said.

Lazaridis showed off a handful of so-called 'super-apps' including a Twitter app that enables tweets to be viewed and sent via the BlackBerry inbox; an eBay app that integrates with the calendar; and a version of the 7 Digital music download service that adapts the quality of the download to the type of network the user is currently using.

"While this is important for consumer apps it's even more important for businesses as they look to mobile applications and solutions as a way to maintain a competitive advantage in this challenging economy," he added.

During the keynote the co-CEO also revealed RIM is to launch a free version of its BlackBerry Enterprise Server software - targeting BlackBerry-less SMEs and large corporations "who haven't moved all of their people to BlackBerry".

"Today we're announcing that we're taking the core security management and services of BlackBerry Enterprise Server and we're putting them in an all-new offering - BES Express," said Lazaradis. "And it will be available for free."

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