by Al Sacco

RIM’s Top 5 Enterprise Features in BlackBerry 7 OS Underwhelm

Aug 10, 20114 mins
MobileSmall and Medium BusinessSmartphones

BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion (RIM) this week released a list of its "favorite" business-oriented features in the brand new BlackBerry 7 OS. Unfortunately,'s Al Sacco says the list is a bit underwhelming.

It’s been a hectic week for BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion (RIM).

Thanks to rioters’ use of RIM’s BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) IM client in London to organize and incite further looting, RIM, attempting to do some proactive damage control, reached out to U.K. law enforcement to see if it could assist in containing and controlling the ongoing chaos.


Unfortunately, a hacker group calling itself TeaMp0isoN, interpreted RIM’s willingness to work with police as sign that it would hand over personal information on customers, and it decided to hijack RIM’s “Inside BlackBerry” blog with threats to RIM and its employees. TeaMp0isoN claimed it would release sensitive information on RIM staffers if the BlackBerry-maker handed over customer data to law enforcement agencies.

But somehow, amidst all the action, RIM still managed to post up a list of what it says are the top five features for business users in its new BlackBerry 7 OS. (RIM announced three new BlackBerry 7 devices last week, and those three handhelds, along with the previously unveiled BlackBerry Bold 9900/9930 smartphone, begin hitting stores shelves in Canada and elsewhere today.)

Here’s RIM list of the best enterprise features in the BlackBerry 7 OS:

  1. Documents to Go Premium
  2. BlackBerry Messenger 6
  3. BlackBerry Balance
  4. Liquid Graphics
  5. Voice-Enabled Universal Search

The list is short and sweet, and there are more details on each item on RIM’s “Inside BlackBerry for Business” blog, so I won’t spend too much time analyzing them. But I will say this: Not one of these features is truly “exciting,” and many of them aren’t even unique to BlackBerry 7. I would have liked to see new, business-specific features spotlighted, but perhaps RIM didn’t really add many brand new enterprise enhancements in this just-released OS.

Documents to Go Premium is already available to a wide variety of BlackBerry smartphone users running an array of BlackBerry OS versions, though it hasn’t always been free. RIM acquired Docs to Go developer DataViz back in the fall of 2010, and at the time, I speculated that RIM would eventually offer the full, premium suite of apps for free.

BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) 6 is already available to BlackBerry users running RIM BlackBerry 5 and BlackBerry 6 software, so while the app is truly valuable to businesspeople—it’s one of my personal favorite BlackBerry apps—it’s not really “new” or specific to BlackBerry 7.

BlackBerry Balance is a great tool that helps corporate IT departments separate work and personal data on employee-owned smartphones. But it’s not exactly new—RIM announced BlackBerry Balance way back in January—and it’s not BlackBerry 7 specific, either.

The last two items on the list actually are exclusive to the new OS, but I’m still not really dying to put them through the paces. BlackBerry smartphones with the BlackBerry 7 OS support accelerated graphics and the Open GL ES 2.0 standard, according to RIM, which means developers can create software with much better graphics and user interfaces than in the past. And business users like pretty graphics just as much as the next consumer, I guess…but I’m not sure Liquid Graphics will prove to be truly valuable to enterprises.

Finally, BlackBerry 7 offers a cool, new voice-activated universal search feature, which could potentially be valuable to all types of users. But I’ve never really been a fan of voice search on mobile devices, since it never seems to work smoothly for me. But I’m keeping an open mind, and I’ll certain give the new search in BlackBerry 7 a whirl just as soon as I get my thumbs on a BlackBerry 7 device of my own.

To sum that all up, I’m very excited to finally check out RIM’s new OS, but the features the company listed as the top business features don’t exactly impress. I hope the same won’t be said about the new BlackBerry smartphone lineup.