Blackberry buyers get set to

GoAmerica, Inc. has made its first foray into the Canadian marketplace with its Go.Web technology after announcing the wireless browser will be a pre-loaded application on Waterloo, Ont.’s Research in Motion’s new Blackberry 950 and 957 devices. The handheld PDAs will be marketed and sold by Rogers AT&T Wireless.

The Go.Web technology will operate on Rogers’ Mobitex time-division multiple access network, and will allow its customers to access not only WAP-enabled Web sites, but also the estimated 1 billion HTML sites on the World Wide Web.

“[The Go.America server] basically locks on to the HTML site, caches it, and then renders it, compresses it, and fires it over the airlink to the device,” described David Neale, vice-president of product development, Rogers Wireless. “So what is happening is the Go.America server acts as a proxy and then reformats (the HTML sites) for the wireless device.”

The resulting text-only sites that Blackberry owners see enables Web pages to download to the devices at a faster speed. The increased efficiency is necessary due to the limited 8Kbps throughput of Rogers’ Internet connection.

At the recent Blackberry launch in Toronto, for example, Web pages such as eBay took as long as 15 seconds to load.

However, Brian Platts, an associate consultant for NBI/Michael Sone Associates, a Toronto-based consulting firm, and a Blackberry 957 user for the past month, said the slow speed has not reduced his enjoyment of the device.

“Overall, I think it’s fantastic,” he gushed. “Depending on the time of day, I’ve found pulling down sites can be a little slow, but at other times it can be quite quick. The technology is only going to improve, and as a start I don’t have any problem with it.”

Platts added that Blackberry’s always-on Internet connection gives its users an advantage over Palm users, who need to establish a connection to check their e-mail and surf the Web.

On the other hand, Platts said Palm has the upper hand in terms of the variety of applications it offers its customers. He was also upset that Research in Motion (RIM) did not enable the Blackberry to be synchronized to a Macintosh or a Linux-operated computer.

“It would be nice ultimately if — regardless of the competitive interests of the manufacturer — we were able to have some openness between (Palm, Pocket PC, and RIM) so people could share information and simply pick the device they want because they’re a little more comfortable with one than the other,” Platts added.