BlackBerry push API goes after consumers

Developers can now use it to build applications that send e-mail and other content in the background

Research In Motion is injecting the power of its popular BlackBerry push technology into the consumer arena by letting third-party developers write applications that tap into it.

The BlackBerry swept the enterprise mobile market largely on the strength of push, which delivers e-mail messages and other content to the handset in the background as soon they arrive and can notify the user immediately. On Monday, RIM gave developers of consumer software a push API (application programming interface) for creating applications that could include Web-based e-mail and other tools.

RIM's move may hook many more mainstream consumers into mobile e-mail, according to Michael Gartenberg, vice president of strategy and research at Interpret.

"Push can be pretty revolutionary when it comes to e-mail," Gartenberg said. "It changes your whole experience." Push eliminates the hassles of moving to a good coverage area, opening an application to check for new messages and then waiting for them to get to the device, he said.

The company announced last October that it would expose its push APIs gradually over several quarters because of concerns about security. On Monday, RIM said developers who belong to the BlackBerry Alliance Program could use the API to build push capability into Java-based consumer applications. Java is the main platform used for BlackBerry applications.

Handmark, which offers the Pocket Express news and information service and other mobile services, expects the API to help it boost the use of its software. Most importantly, it will let Handmark show an update symbol with the application's icon on the main screen of the BlackBerry, said Ted Wugofski, the CTO and general manager for Pocket Express at Handmark. When a news story, stock price or sports score that interests a user shows up, the update symbol will appear.

"Removing barriers to using the application is extremely important," Wugofski said. With the proliferation of consumer smartphone applications, this issue is likely to grow. According to a study by Pinch Media earlier this year concerning the Apple iPhone's App Store, only 1 percent of users who buy a particular application become long-term users of it. Applications on the iPhone can't display an update alert until the user taps on them.

The new push capability could give RIM a much-needed weapon in its arsenal against rivals including the iPhone, Windows Mobile devices and the upcoming Palm Pre, Jupiter's Gartenberg said.

"There is a real battle heating up," Gartenberg said. RIM, Apple, Microsoft, Palm, Nokia and others are fighting over a consumer smartphone market that is becoming mainstream, he said. Consumers are finding reasons to buy all-in-one mobile devices despite the weak economy.

"These kinds of devices are rapidly moving from the 'nice to have' to the 'need to have,'" Gartenberg said.

The reason it's so important to win over developers is that the race among platforms can't remain so open indefinitely, he said. The market will probably be fragmented for the next 18 months or so, but eventually, developers will have to make a bet on one platform, if only to pick which platform they'll write for first, he said.

In this fight, RIM gained on Apple in the first quarter, with its BlackBerry Curve overtaking the iPhone as the top-selling smartphone in the U.S., according to a survey released by NPD Group on Monday. A Verizon Wireless promotion that gave customers two Curves for the price of one probably helped RIM. In the same period, the smartphone market grew to 23 percent of all phones sold, up from 17 percent a year earlier, NPD said.

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Blackberry

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Stephen Lawson

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?