Palm and BlackBerry maker Research In Motion (RIM) today announced that the Palm Treo smartphone will soon feature BlackBerry Connect, allowing BlackBerry e-mail, calendaring, and support for Microsoft Exchange and IBM Lotus Domino, among other features, beginning next year.
In the latest case of smartphone industry partnering and interoperability, the two companies called the collaboration an answer to the demand for more flexible, enterprise solutions for handhelds.
Analysts, who had expected such a deal, highlighted the BlackBerry Connect calendar synchronization. They said the partnership brings Palm’s popular Treo 650 to a wider audience of business users who need the Exchange and Domino support.
“How does Palm get the 650 to work with the population of Lotus users? BlackBerry Connect,” IDC Program Manager Kevin Burden told TechNewsWorld. “It allows Palm to better address Domino, Groupware and other enterprise users.”
The two companies said their agreement would give the Treo 650 — a smartphone with Bluetooth and multimedia capability as well as a screen and QWERTY keyboard — push-based e-mail using BlackBerry Connect with Palm’s own VersaMail e-mail software.
The smartphone will also support Exchange and Lotus Domino, wireless calendar sync, remote address lookup of corporate e-mail directory, e-mail attachment viewing, encryption, and IT policy and enforcement commands.
“We have already seen significant customer interest in this powerful combination, and we look forward to building on our relationship with Palm,” said a statement from RIM co-CEO Jim Balsillie.
True Device, Trend
IDC’s Burden — who said such a deal had been forecast to happen notably sooner — indicated the policy and enforcement capabilities, as well the Treo 650’s other features, were more limited than a BlackBerry device scenario.
“It’s not a true BlackBerry device,” he said, adding that security may also be less robust with the Palm Treo 650-BlackBerry Connect combination.
Nevertheless, Burden said the recent Palm-RIM deal highlights traction for BlackBerry’s Connect licensing program, which also won recent support from Nokia.
“It makes other device manufacturers say, ‘We can’t be left out of this,'” he said.
Yankee Group senior analyst John Jackson told TechNewsWorld that, while BlackBerry Connect co-opts have been criticized for limitation to e-mail, the most significant part of the Palm deal was the inclusion of the BlackBerry calendering client.
“They got the flexibility in the deal to include BlackBerry calendaring,” he said. “That makes it a more complete solution.”
Jackson indicated that similar partnerships can be expected as players such as operating system makers are now regularly supporting multiple, different e-mail clients.
“It’s almost becoming a check-off item,” Jackson said. “[The market] becomes more and more partnership-driven, and the driver is the end users’ demand for a highly flexible solution.”