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BlackBerry Super Apps – MIDP3 Coming?!

February 19, 2010 2 comments

This is a topic I’m VERY excited about and have mentioned on forums like Esato & HowardForums some months ago. First off I’d like to say I’m no programmer, nor have had any experience coding in any way shape or form (Line 10: Print line 20, Line 20: print your name, Line 30 …. Commodore PET doesn’t count).

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As you all know RIM began the mobile corporate e-mail communication business with devices that ran exclusively on C++ code, then shortly after moving the entire handset code over to Java, or to a modified CLDC2.0 & J2ME.

Earlier this week at the Mobile World Conference 2010, RIM’s Co-CEO & Co-Founder Mike Lazaridis gave his keynote and touched on a few key points.

  1. Mr. Lazaridis echoed Peter Rysavy’s research findings that “Operators are likely to find their available spectrum completely consumed in the next three to five years”, ultimately leading to a wireless broadband crunch.
  2. BlackBerry devices scale better with use of data.
  3. Faster running & more reliable applications.
  4. Better Battery life.
  5. When it comes to Applications, what matters is QUALITY not quantity.
  6. Super Apps for BlackBerry. This comes as a loose & possibly the worse marketing term but I think the point & the power behind it is much more important.
  7. Lastly, Mr. Lazaridis said “For every 1 competing smartphone, Network operators can support 3 BlackBerry Browsing Sessions for every 1 competing smartphone browsing session.  Not 5 like Engadget posted.

Now I wanted to focus for a moment on what Mr. Lazaridis mentioned about Super Apps.

  • Contextual
  • Integrated
  • Just-in-time (using data only as required)

Now when most consumers think of Integrated Applications – the last device on their mind is Apple’s iPhone. They’ll think of Applications that share a common layer to be executed or communicated with the core system and other applications. Think about that for a moment.

Most mobile smartphone operating systems can do this, none do so as efficiently as BlackBerry has … don’t get me started on WM6.1 on Motorola Q9h where you cannot copy & paste from a text file into the Mobile Internet Explorer natively without use of a third party plugin!

There are some KEY fundamental features that MIDP3 brings to the mobile phone or smartphone table.

  1. The ability for Java midlets/rimlets to share data amongst other applications. This allows for 1 run-time or many to have applications that either co-exist (running) or not, yet still share the same data. This is data entered, retrieved, or calculated.
  2. Applications do NOT have to be running in order to retrieve, share, or calculate this data … not in the traditional sense. To clarify, traditional applications run with an “overhead” so that the end user can see them (a GUI is present). MIDP3 allows java applications to run “headless” and still be of use to the end user or other applications. This is something our desktop/laptop/Unix server computers have been doing for years.
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Java Duke

Most of you will think the ability to run applications “headless” is a bad idea … on Personal Computers I’d agree. However, with RIM’s renowned security model from server to device solution this works in your favor, not against you.

Take a look at the second keynote recorded by CrackBerry on youtube. You’ll notice at time stamp 1:20 Mr. Lazaridis highlights creating a Twitter Tweet on the BlackBerry from the messaging application did NOT have to have the Twitter for BlackBerry (in-house) app fully launched. THIS my friends leads me to believe that RIM has been playing with MIDP3 as an implementation. Unfortunately, even in OS 5.0.0.4xx I dont see MIDP3 listed on any device shipped to date.

RIM - Concert Party

Java coders, if I’m wrong please shed some light, and offer some pointers to help me and other readers know more.

I’m VERY excited to see MIDP3 used by both RIM and SonyEricsson’s traditional feature phones. SonyEricsson is especially an important partner for Sun Microsystems and Java just as much as RIM is. SonyEricsson has already used Flash with Java into the core of their feature phone OSE for just over 12mths now with no lag or lack of feaures to the end user, in fact its increased speed and features. This is also what RIM plans to do in the near future.

We’ll see!

LINKS:

Introduction to the enhancements in MIDP 3

Community Development of Java Technology Specifications – Forums

Project: JSR 271

RIM, What is a Super App?

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RIM BlackBerry Webkit Browser

February 16, 2010 Comments off

I think I’m in love!

Like most of you already know RIM announced their Webkit Browser in the works as a tease!

BB Webkit Browser

This browser is going to deliver more power and efficiency for end users and corporate users alike … more power than Opera Mini or Bolt Browser (my current personal favorite) with the lovely ability of Bookmarks that is supreme to all platforms currently.

These are just some of the reasons I moved back to BlackBerry …

Multi-Threaded Operating System Rich API’s.

Efficient Data Delivery (Just-In-Time).

Cloud-based API’s for Ads/Payment (I’m very happy the ads are minimal if at all present).

Integrated Location Services (RIM is the pioneer in this field allowing this to be extensible to other applications).

Nobody knows how this will be rolled out to existing hardware (9700 was featured), or when this will be available but it looks ready for prime time! My guess is WES2010 this will launch officially.

There’s just so much that can be done with a BlackBerry today and soon in the future that you’d be left in the cold as a developer. BlackBerry incorporates advancing Technology, Art, Design, and Community.

It is nice to see Mike Kirkup presenting RIM’s beta of Webkit Browser using an Apple MacBook … hmm is there direct supporting tools to develop BlackBerry Applications on Mac?! Mike need info please!

I just thought of something after watching so many video presentations and interviews of Mr. Lazaridis and Mr. Balsillie. Has anyone ever seen either of these two in the last 5-7 years with a laptop?! One thing I’d love to interview either of these two entrepreneur genius’ is what do they do with their BlackBerry to conduct their business, meetings, presentations, and personal lives?! I’m sure many of us would get dizzy looking at their Calendar’s alone.

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RIM @ MWC2010 – Elation in the Air.

February 16, 2010 Comments off

Woah! What a speech Mr. Lazaridis gave at MWC2010!

RIM’s Co-Founder and Co-CEO Mike Lazaridis on began his keynote on how spectrum is a finite resource and that RIM continues to care about respecting a carrier’s bandwidth in its focus on data efficiency.

Blackberry Webkit Browser

Blackberry Webkit Browser

Some serious facts regarding BlackBerry:

75 million devices sold since the brand began.
10 million devices sold in last fiscal quarter!
500+ carriers & distribution partners in 170+ countries
200’000 registered app developers!!
250’000+ active BES servers! WOAH!
(now THAT folks is an 800lbs Gorilla)

These are IDC reports – real facts not some bullcrap studies conjured up folks.

There is a new voice coming from the top worldwide manufacturer CEO’s, analysts “in the know”, and top researchers in North America. When I first heard of this earlier this week I thought of the following.

My initial thought.

You MUST understand a small little insight currently overlooked … all this research and common thought being spread is biased on the United States market place; and only the providers are at fault. I see this as a cop-out for providers like AT&T chargin US subscribers extensive fees disproportionate to their data rate bandwidth offerings, blaming devices like iPhone or high end smartphones being used by vast amount of consumers per capita.

What’s worse is providers like Verizon Wireless and Telus/Bell Mobility & Rogers Wireless in North America have consistently dedicated to increase their networks reliability, and bandwidth to match predicted consumer consumption. Now, I know many readers will say Canadian population does not compare to the United States’ and you’ll be right; however, why is it our providers – with less revenue due to less wireless devices using data have larger bandwidth in preparation for more more consumption than say that of T-Mobile or AT&T in the US?!! Those providers surely make a lot more revenue vs expenses than those here in Canada.

Also note in many other countries in Europe have equal or more subscribers than that of the USA. Now lets compare China or Japan … no contest they almost double … yet their bandwidth for wireless is not an issue and their smartphones consume A LOT more data per subscriber, irregardless of consumer/corporate, than any in North America or Europe. So where does this so called research really leave us, and how much is it worth outside of the USA?

To put it simply … AT&T and other providers that are suffering bandwidth issues … stop feeding the CEO’s carb loaded meals with sauce and put them on a diet. Start building and enhancing the network to deal with current and forecast data use at least 3yrs into the future. Verizon, Telus & Bell have already made deals and a start to increase their networks to LTE which promises significant bandwidth increases. Along with these bandwidth increases – smartphones will not consume data as fast as initially thought because applications and browsers will still only render data for output on a 3-5″ screen and it’ll need to wait for the end user to interact with it; which is at a slower pace than on a dedicated desktop/laptop personal computer.

Then after watching Mr. Lazaridis keynote I had a different thought. For so long many pundits of the BlackBerry – inluding myself for a brief time – knocked on the NOC.

The benefits of the NOC allow BlackBerry devices to:

Scale better for data consumption & submittal
Fast & Efficient e-mail.
Efficien document attachments
Faser running and more reliable applications
This enables less network congestion per tower & overall.

Of course when you optimized a device, network APN, and an infrastructure to back it up this gives you better device battery life (9700 supreme baby). This lead to Mr. Lazaridis’ openning of teasing us with a Webkit Browser & Proxy Technology.

I can see data rates for other smartphones climbing in the not too distant future while data rates for BlackBerry users become cheaper.

Big Announcement Tomorrow

February 15, 2010 Comments off

RIM has a big one due tomorrow, apart from the happenings for developers. I’m really excited tomorrow – so excited that I want to skip off work, but I won’t. Need those dollars to help my B addiction.

Also Bolt, my current favorite browser has been upgraded and available for BlackBerry’s today to v1.7 on the anniversary of the launch. Unfortunately, only v1.50 is available for AppWorld here in Canada.

Happy Family day for all of you out there.

RIM is now sponsoring Black Eyed Peas Tour. I’m hoping those of you bored of BEP are not too soured by this endeavor.

For those of you that may have forgotten Will.I.AM’s presentation at RIM’s conference last fall, a repeat of what was offered at Nokia World 2009 … he mentioned something incredible, significant to those of us that love listening to classic 12″ remixes and new LongPlay versions of your favorite hits freshly released. To coin a chorus from Black Eyed Peas … “I got a feeling …” that this will lead to more.

Recall RIM’s release app from U2’s recent concert that offered specific content?! That was a pretty good offering, but I’m looking forward to what Will.I.AM specifically mentioned about music track downloads and the ability to press a number on their phone to get a specific remix – OTA & OTF (On The Fly) – during playback. Of course a persistent and live data connection will be needed along with a music store infrastructure and cloud service db to be able to handle this currently, but I’ve been feeling this for over decade and been waiting for this since last fall.

RIM you have a unique and industry changing opportunity here.

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Thompson Reuters Pro for BlackBerry

February 11, 2010 Comments off

I’m beginning to get used to the BlackBerry once again.

I figured I’d give a quick passing of an old favorite application … Thompson Reuters. For any of you considering checking up on stocks, or just business news around the world while mobile … you need to have this application as part of your business repertoire.

Thompson Reuters has been improved on the BlackBerry OS 5 … and easily matches just about anything it delivers on iPhone 3GS. Lets take a look shall we?!

When you launch Thompson Reuters Pro you’re greeted with a rich, organized, yet not over-cluttered UI. This is possibly THE most efficient application I’ve seen yet for the BlackBerry that provides so much information. In essense this is a web 2.0 application but fetches update information in ONLY the section you’re in.

Reuters Tabbed Headers

Reuters Tabbed Headers

Organization. Reuters Pro, or Reuters, sorts all possible information into Tabs and sub-tabs. For instance, the main Headers (tabs) are World, Business, Markets, My Stocks, My Feeds, Saved, and a special “+” or Hot-Tab that you can configure to Add/Remove/Re-Order news tabs the way YOU see fit.

Each main Header or main Tab has sub-tabs just beneath it. For example Business has sub-tabs or sections such as: Top business, Market Reports, Commentary, Deals & Mergers, Small Business, Company News, Bonds, and Economics. Whew! Should you scroll beyond the Economics section, the application is smart enough to take you to the next Header … Markets.

The sweet touch of this application is the shortcut support … T for “top” of the section you’re in and this way you don’t have to scroll so often to get to the top. Although , scrolling is much sweeter/easy/faster on TrackPad-based BB’s, TrackBall BB users can rejoice in this thoughtful implementation.

Another sweet note is that you can share the articles via Email, Del.Icio.Us, FaceBook, and of course even Twitter.

Reuters Article Sharing

I’ve noticed that if you install Reuters, or any other application, from BlackBerry AppWorld … you’ll get a discreet icon on your Today Screen when an update is availble; regardless if you’re running AppWorld of not.

Reuters Icon

This took me a few minutes to think what this icon could be from. If you see this on your BlackBerry then take a gander in your main Messages application, there you should see a notification of the upgrade available.

Messages AppWorld Notification

Reuters Upgrade Notification

Of course to upgrade you’ll need to launch the BlackBerry AppWorld on your BB and select MyWorld.

AppWorld - Reuters Upgrade

Upgrading is pretty simple and straight-forward process.

Where you’ll run into issues is, if you install an application directly from the source coder/business that created the application then try to install and upgrade from AppWorld. In my case, I installed Reuters 2.5.7 directly from Reuters.com. Oddly enough, BlackBerry AppWorld recognized I had this installed (even though I did so prior to having a data plan a month back); and offered for me to upgrade to the newer version, 2.6.0.

Upgrade conflict from local install to OTA install

Reuters Upgrade Conflict

I had to uninstall from Third-Party applications on my 9700 first, before upgrading. Should you need to do this, don’t forget to do a battery pull or quick-pull first before installing the upgrade from AppWorld.

Other business Applications (dependent on availability in your region) you should include for your business pocket repertoire:

Reuters Google China Article

Reuters Google China Article

Bloomberg, E-Trade, Yahoo Finance!, WorldMate (in case you travel), amongst others.

Trends: Applications & Platforms

February 7, 2010 Comments off

Trends are once again taking hold in the mobile space and NOT for the better.

Several years ago, GPS navigation was said to be the last great Application & functionality a smartphone or consolidated media device must have in order to survive. Just about every smartphone released in 2009 had one – even many feature phones as well.

Well it didn’t take long for great strides in the application share space to be mated and/or control the mobile phone users’ patronage.

BlackBerry used BBMaps – I’m unsure who the data source is – and allowed many others to play top tier on the BB home front: Google GMaps, TeleNav, and a few others including … Nav4All.

Well not too long – roughly 7days after Nokia feeling the burn that Google had brought to the Droid, and the just released Google Nexus (by HTC) offering FREE Turn by Turn Navigation to them, Navteq, a wholly owned subsidiary of Nokia … did NOT extend the license for Nav4All to continue using its database; not for anything! So Nokia allows Turn by Turn Navigation for FREE on such a vast range of existing S60 smartphones, and a few others set to launch, they cut off Nav4All.

Keep in mind Turn by Turn Navigation is NOT cheap to run and deliver high-availability by ANY means! Tom Tom – also finally entering the iPhone stage – Novi, Route66 and a few other heavyweights charged close to $100US annually. Don’t think the rates stopped there, In Europe for regional maps the cost was higher, and add in hardware that boosted signal reliability (or 1-pony-show In-Car devices) the cost to consumers increased.

Well now Nav4All is screwed, but more so …  27.5 million users in 56 languages using devices made by RIM (Blackberry), Sony Ericsson, Samsung, Motorola, Android, HTC, Nokia, LG, Iphone, Ipod etc.

The trend here, which I’m sure we’ll continue to see is services by the largest players will begin to cut off the small-fry guys hoping to make a mini fortune as well. Also this will hold users to make a knee-jerk FORCED decision – buy amongst the big players (Google & Open-Alliance partners, Symbian-Foundation players, RIM, Apple, Nokia, Samsung, LG, and SonyEricsson). Take note that 3 of those mentioned are part of the Open Handset Alliance and making BIG bets on the future revenues with Android and thus GMaps free Turn by Turn solution possibly being extended to their brands/products as a heavy value-add feature.

Another trend I’m not fond off … is charging for measely basic applications that really don’t offer anything more, or better than the mobile site already does. The BlackBerry platform is the BIGGEST spawning ground for this sort of thing. Craigslist, which I’ve read on 1 of my favorite BlackBerry sites, had  a BB app made and is now available as an Official Craigstlist store offering. The perception that it offers more than the mobile site (other than bookmarking) is incorrect. It gives you LESS page results for what your searching for, and doesn’t fully integrate into the Blackberry APIs. Charging $4.99CAN for it is absurd.

Also it seems that other companies that previously offered a free application offering rudimentary basic functions, and a premium version offering all the bells & whistles you really want and come to expect in a paid for app has stopped. Only premium version now exist for OS5. I’ve noticed a few others but also RepliGo PDF reader. This is a quality application and is probably worth the $10.99CAN its demanding, likewise RIM put up the bill to have Documents To Go bundled into the OS for the past year or so on OS4.6+ but I’d have loved to see PDF-TO-Go as standard on this platform. So many business & consumer users alike go through roughly a handful of PDFs from sites or emails. I shouldn’t have to pay $49.99US JUST to get PDF-To-Go for my Bold 9700.

Possibly when the platform store & application offerings mature to the point where there are 5 other apps that do the same things just as eloquently then we’ll have decent pricing parity and part-&-parcel pickings for what we’re after: Docs To Go is a HUGE solution, but not all of us want/need the entire solution, just a particular part of it.

Storm 2 (9550/9520) 1st Greeting

February 7, 2010 Comments off

Woah! I’m officially a believer!

For the past month my wife has been looking for an upgrade to her BB 8120 Pearl. Initially flirting for the idea of owning a Stratus, BB 9520/9550 Storm 2 – grey market pricing was VERY cheap. Then after she upgraded to the 8900 she’s totally commited to the Storm 2.

I’ve noticed in the past week here in Toronto there are a LOT of Storm 2 users! Maybe its because I’m more focused on seeing how its used in the public and no on a video review (for a fist time user). Yet I’m now just as sweetened to the idea of going to the Storm 2 full time.

Let me set the record straight! I’m a previous iPhone user of 4 months, while my wife is an 8mth iPod Touch user. None of us want the iPhone, and I’m SOLD, on a solid build (hardware & software) smartphone that my Bold 9700 provides me.

Seeing my good buddy’s 9550 and giving it a quick first hand try … I’m impressed! Especially the piezo touch screen where it quickly & accurately auto rotates, selection separate from navigation works VERY well. Something in my mind – and I’m sure in other first time users – is you THINK you need to press HARD on the screen to select?! When really a quick click is all that is needed. Nothing more than you left clicking the mouse on your modern computer, or from clicking the single glass-trackpad on recent MacBook Pro’s.

Well it looks like the Storm 2 is gaining in popularity, and not just for the eclectic user-base.

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