BlackBerry turns wireless calendar page

Research In Motion announces wireless calendar updating capabilities for its line of BlackBerry pagers, becoming the only major device maker to offer such a feature.

Richard Shim Staff Writer, CNET News.com
Richard Shim
writes about gadgets big and small.
Richard Shim
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BlackBerry sweetens mix of features
David Werezak, VP, Research In Motion
Research In Motion's BlackBerry service isn't just about e-mail.

The Waterloo, Ontario-based company on Tuesday announced wireless calendar updating capabilities, to go along with wireless e-mail for its line of BlackBerry pagers.

Now, instead of using a cradle to synchronize pagers with PCs to get updates to schedules, subscribers can do the updating wirelessly and on the fly as they do with their e-mail. Calendar updates are likely to be a key lure for business customers, who are the heart of RIM's audience.

The new feature is another personalization capability that highlights the potential of wireless technology. Analysts have said that for wireless technology to truly take off, it will have to enable services that can't be offered on other types of devices--such as customizing information to suit the needs of a subscriber at any moment.

"Wireless calendar updates allow RIM devices to be truly personalized assistants," said Alex Slawsby, an IDC analyst. "This is the first sign of devices bending to suit the needs of the user, instead of the user having to adapt to what the device can do."

Handheld maker Palm offers a similar service, although it's still a beta, or test, version.

By incorporating wireless calendar synchronization, the RIM's BlackBerry devices become more of a direct competitor to personal digital assistants (PDAs), says Mark Guibert, RIM's director of marketing.

"The primary application (on the BlackBerry) is to stay on top of the in-box and keep on top of the onslaught of e-mail," he said. "With the wireless calendar, it becomes an integrated application."

Regardless of whether RIM's BlackBerry device is considered a pager or a PDA, RIM will be competing in two of the most popular gadget categories in the market.

RIM also announced an alliance with Lucent Technologies and the ability to wirelessly download and install applications with the aid of GoAmerica's new version 6.0 of the Go.Web browser. The Lucent alliance focuses on a cooperative effort to test third-generation, or 3G, high-speed networks.

News.com's Michael Kanellos contributed to this report.