Yesterday (Monday) was the first day of the WES conference here in Orlando. Actually to be accurate it was a "pre-show" day devoted to BlackBerry Alliance Partners, a RIM sponsored grouping of application developers, system integrator and other platform players, of which my company Bachmann Software is a member.
Overall it a very long but quite excellent first day of the show for me. The day kicked off with a keynote at which RIM formally announced the new "Bold" smartphone. Information and photos on the Bold had been leaked out as a "BlackBerry 9000", but the product is formally released by RIM as "Bold". And a "bold" stroke it is. Essentially it takes its place as the "Ferrari" of BlackBerry devices, and it has it all.....wi-fi, gps, hi-res screen, full keyboard, media, 1GB of internal storage, you name it. All this comes with a slight compromise in that it is a bit thicker and bigger than the 8800 model, but of course if you want a tiny phone you really want a Pearl anyway. I played with a Bold at the show, and it was indeed a nice device - not necessarily a revolutionary new product, but certainly a very nice evolutionary device that takes its place at the upper end of RIM's product line.
The Bold comes preloaded with Dataviz' Documents To Go, giving BlackBerry users real native document viewing and editing on device for the very first time. Documents To Go is actually not tied to the Bold only, it is part of the general BlackBerry OS 4.5/4.6 version, which will be the base OS on other new models, as well as an upgradeable OS version for current 8800/Pearl/Curve owners. From my perspective, having Documents To Go as an embedded, integral part of the BlackBerry platform fills what I have called a gaping hole in the BlackBerry solution, arguably the last major such hole that exists. Perhaps only a percentage of BlackBerry owners will create or edit documents on their device, but this functionality is pretty standard on virtually all other competing mobile devices (except iPhone, notably). For many people, being able to carry around, view and edit documents, without toting their laptop around, is a major feature. Congratulations to Dataviz on not only porting their solution to BlackBerry, but also for acheiving bundling status on the device! (Now of course we have to finish adapting the BlackBerry version of our PrintBoy software to let you print your documents wirelessly from Documents to Go.....yes, its coming!)
Aside from that, most of the rest of the day was consumed with presentations from RIM on the Alliance Program, re-connecting with some old friends, meeting new prospective partners, clients and customers, and the like. This years Solutions Showcase is bigger than ever, and I got to walk around and chat with some of the vendors at the end of the day. As usual, RIM has put on a great show, and I'm looking forward to the next few days.
Stay tuned, I'll post more tomorrow!