As fixed/mobile convergence technologies—and their extensions into mobile unified communications—have matured over the past two or three years, the business world has begin to enjoy their benefits, such as increased productivity and lower communications costs. But not users of Research In Motion (RIM)’s enormously popular BlackBerry smartphones.
The problem has been adding VoIP capabilities to RIM’s closed, proprietary operating system. But all that changed this week when Santa Clara, Calif.-based Agito Networks announced Agito for BlackBerry which will provide mobile UC support for four dual-mode BlackBerry models: the 8800, the Bold 9000, and the Curve 8300 and 8900.
Just to refresh readers’ memories, in addition to the seamless handover between cellular and Wi-Fi networks (which gives users wireless phone coverage pretty much wherever they happen to be—and uses cheaper Wi-Fi connectivity when and where it’s available), mobile UC supports/enables presence, instant messaging, plus a lot of PBX functionality, such as extension dialing, single phone number for business and personal calls, a single voice mailbox, corporate directory lookups, and “mid-call” functions such as hold, transfer, and conference.
According to Pejman Roshan, Agito’s chief marketing officer, the initial release of Agito for BlackBerry (early next month) will provide all that functionality, except for IM and presence, which will come later in a maintenance release.
“We wanted to stay focused on VoIP—and fine-tuning VoIP—since this is the first release of VoIP on the BlackBerry ever,” Roshan told Enterprise VoIPplanet.com.
Agito for BlackBerry will become a standard feature of the company’s core product, the RoamAnywhere Mobility Router. Agito will also provide the software to existing customers with valid support contracts (which is all of them, according to Roshan) at no additional cost. “It’s basically a free add-on to the existing Mobility Router,” he said.
In terms of deployment, no extensive server upgrade is required, just a patch that will work with whatever version of the Mobility Router a customer has.
With the client software, Agito proceeded with a light touch, Roshan told VoIPplanet.com. “We’ve natively integrated with the user interface on the BB. You really don’t see a lot of Agito brand or applications,” he said.
“People dial using the native facilities of the phone—the contacts applications. If you’re dialing from an e-mail, you just click to call. Voice dialing, speed dialing, all those capabilities are there.” In other words, BB users remain BB users, they don’t have to open (or learn) a new application to dial the phone.
Where Agito did integrate new elements to the UI, it was to provide menu items for the mid-call features. “For example there’s no transfer capability on the BB, natively, so we add that,” Roshan explained.
It seems this approach was quite successful with BB users. “Comments from beta users indicate they’re really not aware it’s running. They just dial like they usually dial,” Roshan said.
Again, the official release of Agito for BlackBerry will take place at an unspecified time in “early July.” The software is free to customers in good standing.