Today at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, BlackBerry maker Research In Motion made several announcements that showed the company isn’t ready to give up its smartphone dominance in the US just yet.
RIM announced a new WebKit-based web browser that would compete directly with iPhone’s mobile Safari and Android’s web browser (both also use WebKit). Co-CEO Mike Lazaridis emphasized network efficiency in his keynote, and said that the new BlackBerry browser would make efficiency a priority as well. So we can expect the browser to be fast. Lazaridis also demonstrated that the new browser scored 100 percent on the Acid 3 test — which shows that it’s compliant with known web standards. He went on to say that the browser will hit BlackBerrys sometime this year.
As a traditionally e-mail-focused device, RIM has waited too long to improve the BlackBerry’s web browsing experience. A better browser would be key for the next iteration of its Storm smartphone — a direct competitor to other touchscreen smartphones — and will bring the rest of the BlackBerry line to the modern age of mobile web browsing.
Lazaridis also pushed “SuperApps” — which appears to be RIM’s spin on making its existing BlackBerry applications more functional via extensions and other applications. He showed off an extension that allowed BlackBerry users to tweet from their inbox, as well as an eBay app that syncs with your calendar and sends alerts to the inbox. We can expect further extensions for the inbox in the future, along with similar integration with other applications.
Finally, Lazaridis announced a free version of BlackBerry Enterprise Server Express — a simplified version of the BES server that many large businesses and institutions run to support BlackBerry e-mail. The BES Express server will run on existing mail servers and will come with free server and client licenses. A higher-end version will offer social network and video features.
In short, RIM didn’t announce anything truly revolutionary, but the unveiling of its WebKit browser is a sign that the company is keenly aware of the progress its mobile competitors are making.
[Photo via CrackBerry]