Google ends Gmail support for BlackBerry

Internet giant will discontinue support of Gmail app for BlackBerry devices by Nov. 22, according to report, with one analyst saying move is Google's way of "sticking it to Research In Motion".
Written by Kevin Kwang, Contributor

Google will no longer support the dedicated Gmail application for BlackBerry devices by Nov. 22, although users can still access their accounts via their mobile browsers or by syncing the device.

In a Monday report by Bloomberg BusinessWeek, Google said it is stopping development of the Gmail app for BlackBerry devices to focus on the mobile browser experience, but stopped short of elaborating. This is an inconvenience for BlackBerry users with a Gmail account, although they can still access their Gmail accounts via the phone's browser or by syncing their accounts with their mobile devices, it noted.

This comes as a blow to Research In Motion (RIM) even as it looks for ways to stop a decline in its smartphone market share as people turn to rival Android or iPhone mobile devices instead, the report added. IDC's study showed that RIM's smartphone market share dropped 5 percentage points to 10 percent in the third quarter from a year earlier, the report stated.

Roger Entner, founder of market research firm Recon Analytics, told Bloomberg BusinessWeek that the move is "a more symbolic gesture" to RIM.

"Google is sticking it to RIM because [the Canandian phonemaker] has become more and more of a competitor, from an ecosystem perspective and, pending the Motorola acquisition, from a device perspective," he explained.

In an earlier Bloomberg report last Saturday, Leon Cooperman, a hedge fund manager at Omega Advisors, backed the ailing phonemaker. He said that the new BBX operating system (OS), which was announced by the company last month, "is going to surprise people" and will help the company meet its projections.

Ovum's chief telecoms analyst Jan Dawson, however, believes that the deployment of QNX--which currently powers RIM's Playbook tablet--across the entire product line in the coming months and years would mean the Canadian company will be leaving its existing BlackBerry OS developers "high and dry".

This is because there is no migration path for existing developers short of starting from scratch with an entirely new development environment, he elaborated in an earlier ZDNet Asia report.

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