Research In Motion's (RIM) Wireless Enterprise Symposium (WES) is the largest BlackBerry event of the year, and as such, all the heavies in the space--from BlackBerry administrators to analysts and pundits, as well as power-users and unabashed CrackBerry addicts--come out to see the latest and greatest the BlackBerry world as to offer.
CIO.com was on the scene in Orlando this week for WES, and I spent hours in the trenches BlackBerry Solutions Showcase speaking with various vendors about their newest wares. I came across a plethora of noteworthy products and services, too, and though many more deserve mention, I've culled my 10 favorite offerings, listed in alphabetical order, for folks who couldn't make the show.
Cellcrypt Mobile for BlackBerry is the very first product that encrypts BlackBerry voice traffic--phone calls--and though it's not exactly cheap at US$1000 per user per year, the piece of mind of knowing your calls aren't being tapped could be invaluable depending on your line of work.
Simon Bransfield-Garth, Cellcrypt's CEO, says exploits meant to tap into BlackBerry phone calls are entirely possible, and though we haven't really seen any in recent days, it could take just one high-profile attack to raise public awareness. Cellcrypt may be the first to offer BlackBerry voice encryption, but I think you'll start seeing more products like it in the near future.
2) Chalk Media
The Mobile chalkboard from Chalk Media is an application suite that lets corporations and organizations quickly create and distribute media-rich "pushcasts," to staffers' or customers' BlackBerry devices. Such pushcasts can include PowerPoint slides, surveys, call or e-mail requests, video and more. Media chalkboard also enables IT administrators to secure and track the delivery of content, i.e., determine who's consuming what content. And Chalk's pushcasts are accessible without wireless connectivity, because they're pushed onto users' devices whenever there's network coverage and stored until the content is needed.
The product is particularly interesting because it puts the BlackBerry media player, which is typically considered a consumer-oriented feature, to work as a corporate tool.
More information on Chalk is available on the company's website.
3) Giesecke & Devrient GmbH
You've probably heard of traditional smart cards and smart card readers that enable organizations to grant secure access to corporate resources to authorized parties with the appropriate card credentials. In fact, RIM actually makes its own BlackBerry Smartcard Reader, which is about the size of an average BlackBerry but significantly lighter.
Today, thanks to German company Giesecke & Devrient (G&D), you can now do away with extra gadgets and accessories and pack your smart card inside your BlackBerry smartphone.
G&D's Mobile Security Card looks just like a normal microSD flash memory card, and it fits into your device's microSD slot, but it sports an embedded Common Criteria EAL 5+ certified smart card chip, according to the company.
I'd never seen anything quite like this before stopping by G&D's booth, and I think it signals a trend toward using microSD cards for more than simple storage.
For more on the G&D Mobile Security Card, stop by the company's website.
Earlier this week, Google announced its new Google Apps Connector for BES, which lets organizations employ Gmail along with Google's Calendar and Contacts offerings, via BES, to take advantage of RIM's renowned "push" technology and the various BES security safeguards.
I had some time to experiment with the Google Apps Connector before its official launch, and overall, I was impressed. It's still in early developments stages and won't be available until this summer, but the product certainly makes Google Web mail and calendar much more suitable for enterprise use. And it'll actually save CIOs and BlackBerry administrators some cash, according to Google Director of Product Management Raju Gulabani.
5) Gwabbit (Technicopia)
If you haven't already heard of Gwabbit for Microsoft Outlook and BlackBerry, from Technicopia, it's time to check them out. Gwabbit vastly reduces the time it takes to transfer contact information from Outlook e-mail messages to your BlackBerry address book, by automating the process. In other words, whenever you get an e-mail with a signature block, Gwabbit asks if you'd like to add the information to your device contacts. Simply click your trackball to confirm or deny the request, and you're good to go.
Gwabbit for Outlook has been around for some time, but I hadn't seen the company's new Gwabbit for BlackBerry plug-in until I stopped by its booth at WES. And I was immediately glad I did. I'll need to give it a try myself to see how well it performs over time, but I see huge potential in Gwabbit...even if you do have to pay $9.99 a year for it (BlackBerry version).
Visit the Gwabbit site for more information.
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