A technology blog for The Economist Group IT team

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

BlackBerry patent workaround released 

Or as RIM call it, BlackBerry Multi-Mode Edition (MME). One of the patents held by NTP relates to the way that messages are stored on a network and this update seeks to provide a workaround.

In current usage a message from the in-house e-mail system (for example GroupWise) is transferred to the BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) and then to one of RIM's Network Operations Centres (NOC). The message is then forwarded to the destination handheld via a mobile network from the NOC.When a device is out of coverage the message is stored at the NOC.

MME has two modes of operation - Standard and US. In US mode, the NOC is partially taken out of the picture and the BES takes on responsibility for storing and forwarding any messages when the destination handheld is out of coverage.

MME requires an update to BES and all handhelds and so is not a straightforward task. MME mode would be turned on by RIM if needed and administrators and customers would not need to do anything more once the BES and handhelds had been updated. RIM claim that performance will be unaffected, but the BES must have to do some extra work.

Gartner suspect that the MME is more of a bargaining chip than something that RIM would expect customers to adopt and, of course, the courts will need to decide whether it actually does mean that the patent in question is no longer infringed.

Although the case being brought by NTP refers only to BlackBerry devices and software sold in the US only, handhelds that roam to the US will need the update. When in the US, with MME activated by RIM, US mode MME will automatically be switched to by handhelds.
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