RIM adds instant messaging to BlackBerry server

The latest version of Research In Motion Ltd.’s BlackBerry Enterprise Server, introduced at Cebit on Friday, supports enterprise instant messaging and supports the development of applications that mobilize corporate applications, RIM said.

Enterprises that upgrade to the BlackBerry Enterprise Server v4.1 can allow mobile Blackberry users to exchange instant messages with users of Microsoft Windows Messenger, Live Communications Server 2005 and IBM Lotus Sametime systems, the RIM said.

Another new feature allows administrators to wirelessly push data to a new BlackBerry handset for users who have lost their old one, without them having to return to base. Previously, the user would have used a wired connection to a desktop to download their data to a new device, said Charmaine Eggberry, vice president of RIM’s European enterprise business unit.

The new server also supports BlackBerry MDS Studio, a development tool for creating applications. BlackBerry customers are increasingly extending applications other than e-mail, such as CRM (customer relationship management) applications, to their BlackBerry devices, Eggberry said.

The new server combined with BlackBerry MDS Studio is aimed at helping developers create the applications, she said. Currently, 60 percent of the existing 60,000 BlackBerry Enterprise Server users already enable access to corporate applications other than e-mail, she said.

RIM also showed a Bluetooth-enabled smart card reader that can be used to further secure BlackBerry handsets. Customers place the reader near their BlackBerry. Once the BlackBerry identifies the reader, it will display a dual-sign on screen. The user must input a BlackBerry password as well as a password tied to the smart card. If the card is removed from the reader, the BlackBerry shuts down.

The extra security measure is expected to appeal to government and some large enterprise customers, said Khalid Kefel, commercial relations director for RIM.

RIM also announced that it is working with the Fraunhofer Institute, a research institute in Germany, to create a benchmark for securing mobile e-mail, Eggberry said.

Separately, RIM also said on Friday that it acquired Ascendent Systems Inc. for an undisclosed sum. Ascendent, previously a BlackBerry alliance member, offers software that allows businesses to extend some PBX functions such as call transfer, conference calling and four or five digit dialing to mobile devices. The software also offers end users a single voicemail service and a single number that can reach them on their desk or mobile phones.

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