AT&T to Finally Okay BlackBerry PlayBook Tablet “Bridge” App
BlackBerry smartphone users on AT&T should today be able to finally download the official BlackBerry Bridge app for access to their BlackBerry e-mail, calendar, contacts and more via PlayBook tablets.
By Al Sacco
Managing Editor, CIO
U.S. wireless carrier AT&T will today finally put its stamp of approval on Research In Motion’s (RIM) BlackBerry Bridge app, which lets BlackBerry smartphone users access their BlackBerry mail, contacts, calendar and other personal information management (PIM) apps via BlackBerry PlayBook tablets, according to a report on AllThingsD.com.
RIM’s PlayBook does not currently support native e-mail or PIM, so BlackBerry users on AT&T have thus far been unable to access their BlackBerry e-mail and PIM via PlayBook, though webmail and online calendars are accessible via the PlayBook browser—crafty users could also download the app “unofficially” from other websites. (RIM promised native PlayBook e-mail and PIM apps, but it already failed to keep its word that the apps would be released within two months after launch.)
The BlackBerry PlayBook was initially released in April, and AT&T is the only major U.S. carrier that did not support Bridge at launch. AT&T said it wanted more time to test the app before approving it, and it looks as though today is the day it will issue its official okay.
As of 11 am EST, RIM’s BlackBerry App World software store still says the Bridge app is incompatible with AT&T BlackBerrys, but it should be listed for download around “noon” according to AllThingsD, though the report does not specify whether or not that’s noon Eastern time.
AT&T will reportedly allow users to access BlackBerry e-mail and PIM for free via PlayBook using a secure Bluetooth connection, but users looking to employ their BlackBerry smartphones’ Internet connections to access the Web via PlayBook will need to shell out $20 a month extra for a tethering plan. (The BlackBerry PlayBook is only available in Wi-Fi versions right now, so it needs a separate Internet connection for Web access.)
PlayBook sales so far have been less than impressive, and AT&T’s hesitancy to support the Bridge app no doubt played some role in this equation. RIM said it sold some 500,000 PlayBooks in the first quarter following its release, which really isn’t a terribly low number, but it also recently cut sales forecasts for the PlayBook by more than 50% due to an expected decrease in consumer interest around the tablet.
Al Sacco was a journalist, blogger and editor who covers the fast-paced mobile beat for CIO.com and IDG Enterprise, with a focus on wearable tech, smartphones and tablet PCs. Al managed CIO.com writers and contributors, covered news, and shared insightful expert analysis of key industry happenings. He also wrote a wide variety of tutorials and how-tos to help readers get the most out of their gadgets, and regularly offered up recommendations on software for a number of mobile platforms. Al resides in Boston and is a passionate reader, traveler, beer lover, film buff and Red Sox fan.