BlackBerry PlayBook Tablet is Announced – Small Business Ready?

The Tablet game is finally starting to heat up.

Next up is the BlackBerry PlayBook 7″ inch Tablet device set to hit stores April 19th. BlackBerry dubs the PlayBook as “the world’s first professional-grade tablet”. The pricing structure follows:

• 16GB Wi-Fi, $499
• 32GB Wi-Fi, $599
• 64GB Wi-Fi, $699

Althought it’s not listed initially for sale on the 19th, the PlayBook will support HSPA, LTE, and WiMax networks. In other words, BlackBerry will offer WiFi + 4G device configurations in the near future, if not at launch.

Professional-grade? The BlackBerry PlayBook boasts some serious power with its 1GHZ dual-core processor, 1GB of internal ram, and the nicest multitasking functionality around. The PlayBook will have out-of-the-box BlackBerry Enterprise Server (aka BES) capabilities so your company’s IT department can lock down the device for corporate use. Outside of that, it will depend on the mobile app developers to support the PlayBook with some serious productivity apps to make this the “go-to” device for the small business crowd.

Most small businesses don’t have access to B.E.S. or know how to implement it; so we rely on mobile apps to access, secure, and backup our data when we are not in front of our primary computer. BlackBerry smartphones have a nice suite of apps to support mobility, so let’s hope those same apps are ported… or, better yet, are enhanced for the PlayBook.

Finally, the PlayBook runs a tablet-specific OS that should give current BlackBerry smartphone users a reason to check out the tablet. New features, functionality, and user experience should draw in the BlackBerry faithful and give them hope as to what their phones may be able to do in the near future.

The BlackBerry Tablet is available for preorder via Best Buy, and will go on sale at the “Big 3” US wireless carriers, and other locations on April 19th. check out the BlackBerry PlayBook site for more features, specifications, and availability details.

BlackBerry Protect App Secures Mobile Information

RIM has released its own official mobile device protection app (currently in beta) that can backup and restore data if your BlackBerry is damaged or you switch devices. In addition, the app can completely wipe of your data if your BlackBerry falls into the wrong hands.

Small business owners may not have concrete IT policies in place for their device(s). So it’s not uncommon that users secure their mobile data with a simple device password. Backing up and restoring user data may consist of hooking the device up to a computer on an irregular basis. With the BlackBerry Protect app, BlackBerry users can actually create sound mobile security practices to ensure their data is there when they need it and out of reach for others.

Some of the features of BlackBerry Protect include:

  • Wireless Backup and Restore of contacts, calendar, memos, tasks, browser bookmarks, and text messages based on a multitude of scheduling options.
  • Incremental backups: Backup only what has changed since last backup
  • GPS capabilities so you can locate your device on a map
  • Find your device via a Loud Alert function
  • Wipe all contents of your device online

BlackBerry Protect is a free download from BlackBerry App World. Note: BlackBerry Protect does not work in conjuction with BlackBerry Enterprise Server. So check with your organization’s IT department if you’re using a company-issued device.

And remember to always backup ALL of your data!

BlackBerry PlayBook Will Support Android Apps?

Word on the street is that RIM plans to give PlayBook users access to the rapidly-growing Android app library, but the apps reportedly will be developed internally and run on the BlackBerry OS.

Now this news if just rumor for now, but in my opinion, it would be a strange, weird, but smart move for RIM. If you ask me, apps are what make today’s mobile OS shine. If a platform doesn’t have the support of the developer community, it will have a hard time getting enough steam to make an impact. And let’s face it, BlackBerry app development is hanging in at Number 3 behind Apple (iOS) and Google (Android). If HP Palm can revive WebOS in the next couple of months, BlackBerry will fall even further behind.

With a great deal of effort behind the BlackBerry PlayBook, it would behoove RIM to get as many apps on it as possible, or at least offer accessibility to a larger library of apps found on Android devices.

But what do you think? Should RIM focus solely on improving their own developer relations, or should it jump on the juggernaut that is the Android app library?

via: Bloomberg

BlackBerry Playbook will have “Balance” Service Too

It has been recently announced that Blackberry is currently testing a service for BES (BlackBerry Enterprise Service) called BlackBerry Balance that will allow IT departments to control corporate data on a BlackBerry smartphone issued to an employee without touching the employee’s personal data also stored on the device. I personally think this is a move (and a good one) by BlackBerry to maintain its dominance in the enterprise arena by allowing the use of just one device for work and play.

BlackBerry Balance Corporate Data Wipe Screen

To up the ante, it has also been announced that the BlackBerry Balance service will be available for the upcoming BlackBerry PlayBook tablet device as well. Since the PlayBook has been touted as business device, it makes since to provide users with a way to get extended use from the device while outside of the office.

BlackBerry Balance for smartphones (and tablets) doesn’t have a firm launch date, but word on the street is that you will be able to carry two BlackBerry devices in one within the next few months.

Pay For That Latte With Your Smartphone and the Starbucks App

This one goes out to all my small biz owners who constantly set up small satellite offices at their local Starbucks (in addition to being on a first name basis with all the staff).

The Starbucks app for BlackBerry and iPhone now lets you pay for your premium coffee using your smartphone (I drink hot chocolate in the winter and smoothies in the summer…but this is not about me). After you’ve created a Starbucks account, downloaded the Starbucks app, and linked your account; you can simply show a 2D bar code for the cashier Java Specialist to scan to pay for your moca something-or-the-other. The payment doesn’t pull directly from a credit card, but the app itself acts as a Starbucks Card that you add monies to in order to use…Which shouldn’t be a problem for the Starbucks faithful. If you’re cool with it, you can even save your credit card info to make it easier to reload your virtual card.

This feature of the app started off as a trial in local (you guessed it) Seattle Starbucks stores, but now is ready for a nationwide shine. In addition to paying for merchandise, the Starbucks app lets you check your card balance, monitor your Starbucks reward points and see nearby Starbucks locations on a map or list. If you get a physical Starbucks card as a gift you can still pay by smartphone by adding the gift card’s number and security code to your account.

To download for iPhone, visit the Starbucks Card Mobile app in iTunes. To get it for BlackBerry, visit the Starbucks Card Mobile App for BlackBerry site or text “GO” to 70845 from your smartphone.

Word on the Street: AT&T to get a 3G BlackBerry PlayBook

The much anticipated tablet device by BlackBerry is starting to see the light of day as it now has an unofficial launch date of “sometime before the end of the first quarter in 2011”. That device will be WiFi only, followed by a WiMax (4G) version of the device sometime this summer.

According to, a source has obtained a document stating that the WiFi version is still on track to be released before the end of March this year. Additionally a 3G version of the BB PlayBook will be released late March/early April.

Of course all of the is rumor and neither RIM or AT&T has confirmed anything. But maybe (just maybe) the BlackBerry faithful can take a page out of the Verizon iPhone faithful who literally spoke (or blogged) the magical device into existence, and produce enough fanfare to coax RIM and AT&T into releasing the BB PlayBook on the AT&T network.

What do you think? Is there enough demand to bring about a AT&T 3G BlackBerry Playbook, or would it make more sense to just wait (just a little longer) for a 4G version?

Package Tracking App for BlackBerry Keeps an Eye on Your Shipments

Amazon shipping robotI currently own a BlackBerry, and when I want to track a package, I open up my web bookmarks and find the corresponding mobile website for the parcel service that’s handling the shipment. I recognize and appreciate these companies for creating mobile sites so folks can track their shipments via their mobile devices, but it would be cool if there was one app that could track all my packages, no matter the carrier.

The Package Tracking app for BlackBerry does just that. All you do is Define your tracking numbers, click on colorful envelope, and after a few seconds you will get information about the current status of your shipment. You can track packages shipped through the following couriers:

DHL/Airborne USA

You can track up to 5 packages at once, and the app will display all updates to the shipment’s status and its whereabouts.

The Package Tracking app can be had for $3.99 at BlackBerry App World. So if you are in e-commerce or a reseller looking to quickly track your inventory, or just need to make sure all of your holiday packages you bought online reach your house, Package Tracking app may be right up your alley.

Scan the code for the BlackBerry App World link.

Scan code with your BlackBerry QR Code Reader

BlackBerry’s PlayBook Tablet Screams ‘Business Ready’

With its ultra-portable, 7″ inch screen weighing in at under one-pound (compared to the Apple iPad at a “husky” 1.5 pounds for the WiFi only model) and HTML5 AND Flash 10.1 capabilities, RIM has decided to enter the tablet game, but focuses on its tried and true business customer base with the unveiling of the new BlackBerry PlayBook tablet devices set to be released to the masses early 2011.

Of course the business-savvy professional isn’t the ONLY customer RIM had in mind when developing the PlayBook. It also packs most of the entertainment features that are becoming standard of most mobile devices.

– Front and rear-facing HD (1080p) cameras
– 1080p HD video playback
– Mini HDMI output
– MP3, AAC, WMA audio playback
– WiFi (up to 802.11n)
– Bluetooth 2.1

Back to the business side of things – The PlayBook will sport 1GB of RAM and a 1GHz DUAL-CORE processor to power what BlackBerry calls “True multitasking”. Current BB smartphone owners who may be eye-balling the PlayBook will be happy to know that while the first Playbook will be WiFi-only, the ability to tether (share data connection) with their BB smartphone will be as easy as setting up bluetooth connectivity between the two devices. Once set up, the Playbook will display and synchronize data from your BB smartphone – with no extra data plan fees.

The most surprising point about the new PlayBook is the fact that it’s not using the new BlackBerry 6 OS that BB recently unveiled with the new BlackBerry Touch smartphone. BB is putting its acquisition money to good use and tapped QNX to build an all new mobile OS specifically for the Playbook. The company’s founder states that “QNX is going to enable things that you have never seen before”. If this is true and the QNX OS does blow our socks off when the Playbook is released, I wouldn’t be surprised to see this OS take the place of BB 6 OS in the not-so-distant future.

But, we will have to wait and see because “early 2011” is the only solid date we have, and no word as to how much the BlackBerry PlayBook will cost. From the looks of it, there will be two [storage] sizes, a 16GB and 32GB version. And BlackBerry has stated that 3G and 4G versions should be available in the future as well.

My opinion (that is, if you’re wondering) – I’m an app guy, and BlackBerry SERIOUSLY needs to step up its app game to get me excited enough to keep my BlackBerry smartphone AND possibly ditch my iPad for this new PlayBook. Speaking of which, during RIM’s Developer’s Conference (where they unveiled the PlayBook), they also unveiled their new WebWorks Software Development Kit (SDK) in hopes to woo developers back into making some good applications for the PlayBook and other BB mobile devices. So I will reserve judgment for when or if RIM can catch up with iOS (Apple) and Android in the mobile app wars.

What about you? Will you be bugging your company’s IT department about making the new BlackBerry PlayBook tablet available so you can do more Teleworking with your BlackBerry devices? Will you see the PlayBook as much needed companion to your BlackBerry smartphone and your busy, small business lifestyle? Will the PlayBook be a competitor to the iPad? Speak on it in the comments section…

QR Code – What’s the Hold Up?

I’ve been waiting for this mobile technology to take off here in the U.S. So far the reaction/adaptation of this technology has been a steady “meh”.

If you’re not familiar with QR Code (Quick-Response Code), I’ll give you the background. It’s essentially a mobile barcode that you can encrypt with any type of information. Contact info, calendar appointments, even URL’s can be encoded via QR code for mobile devices to “scan” and decrypt the information. It’s a very quick way to pass along information to anybody using a mobile device.

Business owners can create codes to quickly get their contact info into a client’s mobile address book. Companies can create codes that will send mobile users to online coupons they can use in-store without downloading the image and figuring out how to print them to hand to the cashier. There is even a real estate company out in Wisconsin that is using QR Code as yard signs to drive home shoppers to their mobile site to find out more about the property for sale. Or just create a code to get users to your mobile site (If you are using WordPress, I certainly hope you are using a plug-in that creates a “mobile-friendly” version of your website).

Once you create the code encrypted with information like your business info. (name, address, phone number and website) you can put that code…anywhere! On the back of a business card, on flyers, on a t-shirt, as an image on your website, etc. Anybody with a QR code reader app on their mobile device can scan the code using their device’s camera and instantly, users can opt to add your information to their mobile device’s contact list.

There are tons of apps available that will enable you to create the code and most (if not all) mobile devices offer mobile apps that will scan the code to access the information. And they are not expensive at all (most are free).

Services/apps to create QR Code:

Mobile Barcodes

Mobile Apps to read QR Code:

Windows Mobile

Now i’m pretty sure you’ve seen these things out in the wild, but my question is why haven’t they taken over as the de facto way to access information via a mobile device? They are easy to make (The image in the article when scanned will take you to…you have to scan it to find out). And easy to scan – it’s just as simple as taking a pic of an image with your smart phone’s camera. So what’s the hold up?

Do U.S. companies fail to realize that a large number of people accessing the internet are doing so via their mobile devices? Some companies get it, and are using QR Codes to welcome their mobile device users:


Or is it education? Do people really know enough about QR Codes to create the demand for more entities to adopt the technology? If that’s the case then do me a favor, share this article with everybody you know so we can get the ball rolling! SmallBizGoMobile has done it’s job, now it’s time to do yours!

New Blackberry Torch 9800 mobile phone with touchscreen and slideout keyboard

Credit: RIM new Blackberry Torch 9800

Glad to see RIM (Research In Motion) the makers of the Blackberry releasing a new phone. It’s titled the Torch 9800 available on Aug. 12th on AT&T for $199.00 w/2 yr contract! I have always been a fan of the Blackberry form-factor and it’s hyper-focus on the business user!  My business partner Nicole, is a loyal BBerry user no-matter-what. She calls it her “workhorse”. I know plenty of Bberry users that will be excited about the new changes since the Torch 9800 is the 1st Blackberry with a slide out keyboard, touch-screen (not the clicky screen from before) and the new operating system OS6 which brings the Torch a new interface, better multimedia use with dedicated apps like YouTube app and a Podcasts app. Most of all it has a new browser!!! It features tabs for accessing multiple sites simultaneously, double-tap to zoom and pinch to zoom. Another big plus for Bberry people is the Universal search–allows you to to search through email, messages, contacts, music, videos  as well as extend search to the Internet or to discover applications on BlackBerry App World.

Check the video to see it in action: (WILL YOU GET THIS PHONE ?- tell me in the comments)

Additional BlackBerry Torch Smartphone Features

  • Approx. 4.4″ (5.8″ open) x 2.4″ x .57″ and weighing 5.68 ounces
  • 3.2″ 360×480 capacitive touch screen display
  • 35 key full QWERTY backlit slide-out keyboard, designed to feel optimally balanced when opened for typing
  • Optical trackpad, 624 Mhz processor with 512 MB Flash memory
  • 4 GB built-in memory storage plus a microSD/SDHD memory card slot that supports up to 32 GB cards; a 4 GB card is included giving users 8 GB of storage out-of-the-box
  • 5 MP camera with flash, continuous auto focus, image stabilization, scene modes, geo-tagging and zoom, as well as video recording at up to 640×480 resolution
  • Built-in GPS for location-based applications and geo-tagging & Wi-Fi® (802.11 b/g/n)