As mentioned in our latest Around SPE, Dieter Bohn is in Barcelona this week to cover all the big news coming out of the Mobile World Congress event currently taking place.
Dieter just did his duty for CrackBerry Nation and headed over to the BlackBerry booth. From the looks of it, it's a similar setup to RIM's display in Vegas last month at CES, where many BlackBerry Alliance members were on hand within to show off their latest software apps and BlackBerry-related products. The most interesting thing on hand from the actual RIM camp is the appearance of an HTC Touch Pro (AT&T Fuze in the USA but not quite as good of a phone) running the BlackBerry Application Suite software. This virtual BlackBerry software brings the BlackBerry OS (v. 4.2.1) to supported non-BlackBerry devices. Dieter, always the fan of Windows Mobile and familiar with BlackBerry devices (thanks to the Smartphone Round Robin) went hands on and had this to say:
In all, I was very impressed with BB Application Application Suite. It ran remarkably well -- certainly better than the janky pre-release beta videos I'd seen to date. I tried to pin them down on a release date (they clammed up a bit when I said "CrackBerry.com") and the best I could manage was "in the coming months." One interesting note: BB Messenger does work and it does have a PIN. What RIM does is run some sort of fancy algorithm on your IMEI number and then creates the PIN off of that. So the bad news (or good news, depending your openness:security stance) is that PINs are still tied to specific pieces of hardware.
I do have to say that the BlackBerry experience is significantly hampered without a trackball -- having to use the physical d-pad to click click click was a major pain. Otherwise, as I said, the thing ran relatively snappily and also didn't seem to hamper Windows Mobile much at all. And get this: it seems to start from a cold launch in just under a minute, much faster than your average BlackBerry cold boot. :p
Of course, I don't understand why anyone would want to own/use a smartphone other than a BlackBerry, but at least with BlackBerry Application Suite the options are broader and you can still get your taste BlackBerry goodness. It's kind of interesting that the people at the booth said it's OS 4.2.1, yet looking at the images it has the same look (shortcuts, graphics) as 4.6. A ton more photos after the jump! Thanks Dieter!! You can catch more of his MWC coverage here.
Update from Dieter: My memory is jogged by Kevin's comment. The 4.2.1 reference was actually about which 3rd party apps would be compatible with BB App Suite. Anything that works with 4.2.1 will work here. Everything designed for later releases will apparently be touch and go.
BlackBerry Application Suite Hands-On