By Barry Levine / CIO Today. Updated October 01, 2009.
In a move that could impact its sales among both consumer and business Mac users, Research In Motion announced Wednesday that a BlackBerry Desktop Manager for Apple's Mac will be released on Friday. The free software syncs contacts, calendar appointments, and notes on a Mac with BlackBerry smartphones.
The software works with Mac programs such as iCal, Address Book, Microsoft Entourage, and others. It also enables a user to schedule backups automatically, add or delete applications, encrypt backup files, and install software updates for the BlackBerry.
Until now, BlackBerry Desktop Manager has only been compatible with Windows machines.
'A Long Time Coming'
BlackBerry Media Sync can also be managed within the desktop manager. With media sync, users can transfer their iTunes music, including playlists, song information, and album art, from a computer to a BlackBerry.
Avi Greengart, an analyst with industry research firm Current Analysis, said the Mac version of the manager was "a long time coming."
He said it probably doesn't change the appeal of the iPhone to Mac users, but it "makes it easier for BlackBerry owners who are in a business environment" or in a home where Macs are used. Greengart noted that the Mac's market share is still in the single digits, although notebook users in the U.S. are above the global share.
It's the U.S. Mac notebook market, he added, that RIM needs to tap into. Greengart noted that, since most of RIM's sales these days are to consumers, this is actually more of a consumer play than a business one.
While RIM is looking more toward the consumer market, Apple has been busy making its iPhone more compatible with businesses. Newer Mac software enables the iPhone to work with Microsoft Exchange and standards-based servers, allowing a user to utilize a company's e-mail, calendar and contacts. It has also been working to increase the security of such communications, a key concern for many IT departments.
RIM needs to keep up with Apple and others, and to avoid the complacency that left the once-hot Palm in the dust. Last week, RIM issued its fiscal second-quarter results. Despite a rise in revenues in the second quarter of fiscal 2010 to $3.53 billion, which amounted to a three percent increase over the previous quarter, the company had a four percent drop in earnings.
The consumer smartphone market has thus become a key part of RIM's strategy, especially as the business market is saturated and, as a variety of observers have noted, RIM's platform is beginning to show its age.
Desktop manager requires Mac OS X 10.5.5 or higher, and BlackBerry OS 4.2 or higher. It will be available as a free download, starting at 10 a.m. PDT on Friday, from the BlackBerry Mac page.