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BlackBerry gets in wireless sync

Research In Motion says its pagers will soon be able to use cellular networks to wirelessly synchronize data with remote computers, a feature already offered by rival Good.

Research In Motion is adding wireless synchronization to its BlackBerry pagers, a move that puts the company in step with key rival Good Technology.

Most BlackBerry pagers will be able to use a cellular connection to wirelessly synchronize the information on the devices with that on a corporate computer network, RIM announced Monday. A representative for the company said BlackBerrys with the feature will be available to customers "soon"--perhaps within a number of weeks--but refused to specify a more exact date.

RIM has been looking to broaden the number and types of devices that can use its software and services in the face of increasing competition from the likes of Good and Microsoft--with its Smartphone software--and as it tries to increase growth amid a slowdown in corporate spending.

The Waterloo, Ontario-based company is focusing on the corporate market with its efforts. RIM makes the BlackBerry device and provides a corresponding service that allows owners to update their contact lists and calendars and to send and receive e-mail while away from the office or home.

However, BlackBerry owners have not been able do this wirelessly, giving Good a big advantage over RIM, as the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based rival already includes software that allows users to wirelessly synchronize data between its pagers and corporate servers. At the moment, a BlackBerry must be tethered to a computer to do the same thing--but the new feature is intended to change that.

"RIM's new GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) devices promise features that Good Technology has had for over a year," said Andrea Cook Fleming, vice president of corporate marketing at Good.

RIM also announced Monday that Cingular Wireless will begin selling a BlackBerry pager that works on its telephone network, which lets subscribers download e-mails at speeds of between 20Kbps and 40Kbps.

Charles Nelson, president of Cingular's interactive division, said in a prepared statement that the new BlackBerry that it's selling will extend the company's "offerings to our next-generation network customers."

Cingular Wireless already sells BlackBerry and Good devices that use its Mobitex network, which is about half as slow as the Xpress network.