When is a BlackBerry not a BlackBerry?

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will.jpgWill Head writes…

RIM is soon going to be rolling out a version of its much prized instant email software that will run on Microsoft’s Windows Mobile platform.

The company has offered similar functionality in the past through BlackBerry Connect, but the new version looks like it will replace the Windows Mobile interface while it’s running so it looks distinctly more BlackBerry like.

However, it doesn’t look like just anybody with a Windows Mobile can just simply download the software and off they go. First up, it will only run on the latest version of Windows Mobile – 6.0. Also, there’s no firm word yet how RIM plans to charge for it.

It could be a free add-on – since users pay an additional fee for BlackBerry email each month – or it could requite an upfront fee as well. It’ll no doubt come down to what sort of deal is agreed with the mobile operators.

But is it a good idea for RIM to put one of its must have features on a competitor’s platform? It is true that until recently, BlackBerry hardware was viewed as a necessary evil for having the advantages of push email. But with the consumer friendly Pearl model and its bigger brother the 8800 it’s not the case anymore – these are desirable handsets in their own right and they come with all that BlackBerry goodness built in.

It’s good news for Windows Mobile handset makers – if RIM irons out the details with the operators then it’s a new feature for their phones without them having to do anything at all.

Microsoft might not be over the moon about the announcement – after all, it seems a bit rude of the application to replace the current interface with its own (although users can switch back and forth between two).

For consumers, though, it’s great. With a wider range of handsets that are BlackBerry compatible available then more people can enjoy the simplicity of email on the go. No more tapping in seemingly random setup details via the keypad or routinely checking for new mail – with BlackBerry you can treat email like text messages and get on with the things you need to do.

Will Head