Hosted BlackBerry e-mail reaching service providers

Research in Motion has unveiled a software package that lets hosting service providers offer BlackBerry wireless e-mail as a monthly service to small and midsize businesses.

The software, dubbed Hosted BlackBerry Enterprise Server, is targeted at hosting providers that already offer e-mail services to SMBs, based on Microsoft Exchange, IBM Lotus Domino or Novell GroupWise. By adding the RIM software and handheld devices, these providers can extend e-mail service wirelessly over cellular links to BlackBerry devices in the hands of these same customers.

Still another RIM product, BlackBerry Mobile Data System software, will let these providers host an array of other mobile applications that can also be accessed by BlackBerry devices.

RIM's plan is to sign up new customers that want wireless e-mail but don't want, or can't afford, to invest in the IT infrastructure needed to support it. "With Hosted BlackBerry Enterprise Server, these companies can access the same functionality and features as larger enterprise companies through a fully managed, secure hosted solution," according to a RIM statement.

The costs of a hosted solution are unclear. RIM declined to specify what it will charge the hosting providers, except that the charge is a per user/per month fee. The final charge to the SMB customer will be up to the provider, according to RIM.

RIM recently reported surging subscriber growth since its settlement of a long-running patent dispute. The company added 680,000 subscribers and shipped 1.2 million devices in its first fiscal quarter this year. RIM now claims 5.5 million subscribers worldwide.

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