WES 2008 is now over and that means one thing...time to do our CrackBerry.com Best of WES 2008 Awards! And just like last year, the Crackies are given out in important categories such as Busiest Booth, Best Schwag, Every BlackBerry Addict is Gonna Buy One of These, If I Ran a BES I'd Want It!, The No Brainer, and More! Let the Award Show begin!
Welcome to CrackBerry.com's Best of WES 2008 Awards Ceremony
Doing up a Best of WES in "standard" categories (enterprise, consumer, etc.) is a really challenging task, as what you'll find if you attend WES in person is that every single exhibitor is extremely passionate about their product, and has something unique to offer that could easily make it one person's favorite solution depending on that person's needs. If a BlackBerry solutions provider doesn't win a Best of WES award, that doesn't mean their offering isn't stellar.
I'll put up the disclaimer straight away and say the Cracky Awards are bit biased by definition...since the judge here is...umm.. me. Nobody offered up any bribes though, so all in all this year's picks should be pretty spot on. If you think I missed out on a pick, you can drop a shout out to your favorites in the comments. When it does to come to the "normal" categories and a more diplomatic process, our buds over at BBCool really picked up the Best of WES banner this year and ran a pretty professional competition, with judges and voting and all (good job guys!). You should check it out after you have seen all of CrackBerry.com's Cracky Award Winners.
Overall I was really impressed with the Solutions Showcase. It was BUSY right up until the very minute it closed at 2pm on the last day, and while many of the established names in the BlackBerry world were back with similar offerings to last year, it was clear that a lot of progress and refinement has been made over the past 12 months by everyone. Last year’s vaporware are tangible products this year, and last year’s established products are even better. It seems nobody sits still in the BlackBerry space.
Another thing to note is that not every Best of WES candidate is actually found in the Solutions Showcase. Two of last year's winners, WickSoft and SimulScribe (now PhoneTag) never had a booth last year but when I bumped into them among the WES festivities and was shown their apps I was blown away. The same thing happened this year. It does cost a chunk of money to exhibit at WES so a lot of companies with great apps make their splash outside the show floor, which I think is totally awesome. In the case of last year's "No Brainer" award winner WickSoft, they were back with a booth this year which helped them spread word of their powerful Mobile Document Access solution. It's exciting to see RIM announce their first annual BlackBerry Developer Conference (coming up the week of October 20th) as that will really bring together all of the BlackBerry Software developers out there. Stay tuned for a BEST of BBDC 2008 following that show.
OK. Enough Reading from the Teleprompter.... and CrackBerry.com's BEST OF WES 2008 Cracky Award Winners are....
What a way to make an entrance into the BlackBerry World. Before WES 2008, nobody had ever heard of Unify4Life. That's definitely not the case anymore. Unify4Life's BlackBerry Remote Control was the talk of the show and for good reason - the product is slick. Unify4 Life transforms your BlackBerry into the ultimate universal remote allowing you to fully manage your home entertainment environment, including home theatres, radio receivers and televisions.
In addition to controlling literally every entertainment gadget you can think of (seriously, Unify4Life had a hotel suite rigged up where they were demonstrating the product in full force), Unify4Life includes Easy Web set up for adding devices, an Interactive Program Guide (look up what's on television) and SoundStreaming. Like the BlackBerry Remote Stereo Gateway, Unify4Life's SoundStreaming allows you to output audio from your BlackBerry to a stereo amplifier located up to 30ft away. It's actually better than the BlackBerry Stereo Gateway - one of the downfall's of RIM's product is that you have to leave your home stereo's volume cranked up as you can only control the BlackBerry's volume output. The Unify4Life product allows you to actually control the volume on the receiver. Considering Unify4Life's BlackBerry Remote will retail for $100 (only $20 more than the BlackBerry Remote Stereo Gateway) it offers a LOT of value. Definitely the Biggest BlackBerry Buzz! at WES 2008 and it's safe to say that Every BlackBerry Addict is Gonna Buy One of These!
Award: Busiest Booth
Award: Best Schwag
OtterBox won two Crackies in 2007 and they are back to defend their title in 2008. It's amazing how far the company has come in the BlackBerry space in 12 months. Last year OtterBox was still fairly unknown - they only had a tank-like case (albeit a really cool tank-like case) on the market for the 8700. Today their sleek and durable line of Defender Cases is available for the entire family: BlackBerry Pearls, Curves and 8800 series smartphones. And I'm SURE they are already hard at work on an OtterBox case for the BlackBerry Bold.
When it comes to WES 2008, OtterBox knows how to draw a HUGEEEEE Crowd. Give away the Best Schwag (a Free OtterBox case!!) and you'll always have the Busiest Booth! Congrats Guys. Given their winning record, chances are you'll see OtterBox winning a couple of Crackies in 2009 :-)
Award: Best Accessory
Award: The No Brainer
Bayalink's booth at WES 2008 was a close runner up for Biggest Buzz and Busiest Booth awards. Instead, the good folks at Bayalink are taking home two other Crackies for their Showcase BlackBerry Product, Liberty.
The Liberty solution allows you to turn any laptop or computer into a MONSTER screen and keyboard for your BlackBerry securely and conveniently. Install the Liberty software onto your BlackBerry, pair it to the Liberty key via Bluetooth, plug the key into a USB port on a computer, launch the Liberty software on your BlackBerry and you are rocking your BlackBerry like you have never rocked it before. Your BlackBerry remains on as the data connection and everything done on Liberty (ie. compose a message/delete a message, view a webpage) is done on/through your BlackBerry.
This solution turns the computer you are on into a slave for your BlackBerry. No data is ever stored to the remote PC or laptop unless you choose to put the data there, so when you unplug from the machine you are clear to walk away. The Bayalink Liberty had a ton of interest from the enterprise folk in attendance - for those who travel regularly and use the BlackBerry as their staple device, this allows you to turn any PC or laptop you encounter, be it in the airport, hotel lounge or at a client meeting into a BIG keyboard and display for your BlackBerry. One more reason to leave every laptop behind. If you have 50 emails to reply to, Bayalink's Liberty will help you spread the two-thumb workload across all your digits.
Congrats Bayalink! You definitely deserve the Best Accessory and coveted No Brainer awards (this product is so good it's a No Brainer to go out and buy it). For pricing, availability and more info, visit Bayalink.com.
Award: If I Ran a BES I'd Want It!
When it comes to the enterprise side of the things, I don't have *too* much hands-on knowledge and experience (we're working on getting more Enterprise voices into the CrackBerry blogs so stay tuned!), so I posed the question to many BES administrators at WES... What product do you want from the Solutions Showcase for your company?
More times than I count, BoxTone was the one-word answer. BoxTone is the ultimate single solution to manage, monitor and support BlackBerry Smartphone Users in the enterprise setting. There were other monitoring platforms present at WES, but everyone I talked to outside of the Solutions Showcase seemed to be a believer in BoxTone, which says a lot. Push come to shove, If I ran a BES, I'd Want It!
We're over half way through this year's Best of WES 2008 Winners, and we don't want the show to run too long, so without further ado here are the other companies taking home a Cracky this year!
Enterprise Coolness Award: Mobile chalkboard
Chalk's Mobile chalkboard application suite enables the rapid creation and secured and tracked deployment of media-rich "pushcasts" to BlackBerry smartphones. In the enterprise setting companies are using Mobile chalkboard to send sensitive or media-rich communications out to their mobile workforce and seeing this in person I was absolutely blown-away as were many others who stopped by their booth. There are a lot of compelling reasons why it makes sense to have this application in your company's arsenal of BlackBerry apps. Visit Chalk.com for more information and be SURE to watch the video overview.
Best HallWay Pitch Award: BeamBerry PDF Reader
Dieter and I ran into the boys from BeamBerry Solutions shortly before recording one of our Podcasts, and we were really impressed by the new Native PDF Reader they had to show off. The app will be officially released in June, but the demo version was fully functional and worked great. The application is COMPLETELY NATIVE... no data is required when viewing pdfs and the app did a good job of formatting and rendering text, and it worked surprisingly fast. Read the Press Release for more information, and keep your eyes peeled for this app to hit.
Best Apps I Can't Talk About Award: BBSmart ????
Take a look at ShopCrackBerry.com's Software store and you'll find that Two of the Top Five Selling apps are made by BBSmart. Their HTML Email Viewer was an instant hit when released as is their new Alarms Pro application. Outside of the Solutions Showcase I caught up with a few of the members of the BBSmart crew in attendance and they showed me a couple of the apps they have coming down the pipe (an advantage to attending WES in person), but I had to PROMISE (cross my heart and hope to die) I wouldn't spread the word until they are officially launched. All I can say is WOW. I have a funny feeling BBSmart will be owning a couple more positions in the Top 10 Sellers list in the near future. I know I know... it's a horrible tease... but at least you now know there are some cool apps on the way you can look forward to!
Most Effective Marketing at WES: Viigo
No introduction is needed for Viigo. Anybody who visits BlackBerry-related websites online already knows about and likely has installed Viigo's amazing and FREE news reader (hopefully it's the CrackBerry.com-branded version they've installed!). With the unveiling of their new and improved Viigo Project Tango at WES, a great app has gotten even better. No Cracky is needed to acknowledge CrackBerry.com's stamp of approval on Viigo's app. Instead, Viigo wins the Cracky for Most Effective Marketing at WES 2008. The Viigo name could be seen EVERYWHERE. Viigo was on the bags you received at Registration (I wonder what that cost to sponsor?!!), the Viigo team was highly visible in their Green polos, the WES-version of Viigo was on everybody's devices, and the team was highly accessible for interviews (Viigo's CEO Mark Ruddock even joined us for a Podcast). Everybody knows the Viigo name now... there's only one thing left to do now... release Project Tango!
Where Has This App Been All My Life Award: AlertMatrix
REXwireless has some great apps for BlackBerry users in ToDoMatrix, IdeaMatrix, ReferenceMatrix and KnowledgeMatrix, but what really caught my attention this year was a new application they are soon going to release called AlertMatrix. AlertMatrix is a flexible, rules-based communications filtering and alerts application that tightly integrates into your BlackBerry's OS. It's brilliant. If you're the kind of guy who gets 400 emails a day on your BlackBerry while wearing it at the hip or in your pocket, there's currently no real way to prioritize those messages. If your profiles are set to Quiet you miss them all, and if they're set to Normal or Loud your BlackBerry buzzes or beeps 400 times a day and it drives you nuts and causes CrackBerry-induced ADD. AlertMatrix allows you to override the default profiles. Are there only 5 people who you really need to check/respond to their messages immediately? Set your BlackBerry to silent, setup a rule for your 5 VIPs, and instead of your BlackBerry buzzing 400 times a day it'll only buzz when your VIPs message you (hopefully that's a lot less!). The implementation is really well done. There's more to it than what has been described, but it's definitely one of those apps that makes you wonder Where Has This App Been All My Life?!
UNTIL NEXT YEAR....
That's it folks! CrackBerry.com's Best of WES 2008 has come to an end. Congrats to All the Winners and Kudos to EVERYONE who attended WES and displayed their BlackBerry Solutions.
We'll see you at WES 2009!