Best of WES 2007 - OtterBOX 8700

The next winner in the BEST of WES 2007 awards has pulled in THREE accolades, winning the  "BEST ACCESSORY AWARD", "BEST FREEBIE GIVEN OUT AT WES AWARD" and "BUSIEST BOOTH AT THE SOLUTIONS SHOWCASE AWARD".  The envelope please .... and the winner is ....

the OtterBOX BlackBerry 8700 Series Case  

The OtterBox BlackBerry 8700 Series Case is a heavy-duty case that makes it possible to take your BlackBerry virtually anywhere. The case features a polycarbonate/ABS shell for maximum strength and rugged durability as well as an innovative rubber overmolding for grip and drop protection. It also provides seaOtterBox BEST of WES 2007led access to keypad, scroll wheel, escape button, power button, mute button and programmable side button. It's the Hummer of BlackBerry cases.

Going into WES I had never personally seen or held an OtterBox Case, though I was already a bit of a fan based on the OtterBox review we published at a few weeks ago (it was posted by our occassional guest contributor Robert Loblaw).

The Busiest Booth
Just getting to the OtterBox booth at WES proved to be difficult as a big crowd was always gathered around. You have to remember, WES is primarily geared toward Enterprise solutions, and I think as a result the majority of exhibitors who attend are there to show off their enterprise applications. And while there were many really cool apps at WES, software just doesn't draw in a crowd to the same extent that a near military-grade case for your BlackBerry can. So congrats to the OtterBox team for taking a leap in faith in attending their first WES. The Otterbox crew told me attending the show was a great idea and that it turned out to be a great success for them. I have a feeling at WES 2008 there are going to be a lot more Accessory manufacturers present.

The Best Freebie
This was a toss-up! I was told by a few people at WES that the t-shirt was the best schwag given out at the event, but since I only came with 20 of them (I know better for next year!), I'm going to have to give this award to OtterBox for the case the crew was nice enough to give me (afterall, it does have a retail cost of $129.95)! I'm not sure if every visitor to the booth was as lucky as me, but either way I say thanks!

The Best Accessory
Since receiving my OtterBox case I have been using it daily. There's just something about it that I love. It's big, It's bulky... it's cool! It's very easy to use. The case is in two halves - you insert your 8700 face down on top of the keyboard, slide the back of the OtterBox over the phone, and then latch the two halves together. It's nice to hold in your hand - it's big. I've been hounding my dad to get a BlackBerry for a while now, but he's not into slim electronic gadgets that have tiny buttons and are slippery and easy to drop. However, I now think I could sell him addicted to a BlackBerry so long as it's in an OtterBox case! It's definitely has that Old School feel. The operation of the BlackBerry within the Otterbox case is very smooth. Typing on the keyboard is actually really easy and the trackwheel works flawlessly.

OtterBox BlackBerry 8700 Side by Side Comparison

The Great Plural BlackBerry Debate

berries So what do we call our little devices if we find we have more than one of them? BlackBerries or BlackBerrys?

The stress of it all. This debate has caused some considerable uproar in the office. In fact, an office-wide schism has opened up pitting the cult of “ies” against the “ys” and it threatens to rip asunder the whole organization. OK that’s a bit of hyperbole, but we grammar nerds can get a little hot under the collar about such things. So I shall, once and for all, lay to rest the great plural Berry debate.

First up, BlackBerries. Using this form of plural would make sense, because that is what used when describing more than one of the fruit and there is the convention of using ‘ies’ when describing the plural of things ending in ‘y’ that are not preceded by a vowel—strawberries, stories, hobbies, companies. I should also point out that the CBC uses BlackBerries in its text stories. Ditto the BBC and a number of tech websites. 

But what of the idea that BlackBerry is a trademarked name and a proper noun and is thus not subject to the usual ‘ies’ convention? That argument has some supporters such as eWeek and the Guardian newspaper. 

Bill Walsh is the Copy Editor at the Washington Post and author of books like ‘Lapsing into a Comma’ and ‘The Elephants of Style,’ and he suggests that proper nouns are not changed when made into a plural, for example he says “it’s Grammys, not Grammies.”

The Canadian Press’s own stylebook also makes that point, but then goes onto say there are exceptions like “Rockies” and “Tommies.” How Canadian.

RIM is no help either. Nowhere do they refer to their devices in the plural, except to call them BlackBerry Wireless Devices or BlackBerry Smartphones. I see the hands of lawyers all over that. Employees of RIM actually refer to them as ‘BBs.’ Grrrrrr.

In Scotland, members of the Scottish Parliament from the Scottish National Party apparently call their BlackBerry devices “Brambles,” which is a British word for a blackberry bush. Perhaps we should all adopt that convention.

And what of CrackBerry? Is that a proper noun now? One assumes it should follow the same convention as BlackBerry.

Finally, I decided on democracy. Yes that great tool of democratic thought, Google, would seal my choice. But, alas, a Google search for both choices showed the world split evenly. BBC, CBC, Mobile Gazette and Computer Weekly on one side eWeek, The Guardian and MSNBC on the other. A little judicious searching also shows that USA Today apparently doesn’t have a copy editor as it has stories featuring both BlackBerrys and BlackBerries. Nice.

So it is decision time. While I have been a champion of ‘BlackBerries’ for purely esthetic reasons, I must cast my lot with Bill Walsh. While technically they are BlackBerry Wireless Devices, the Grammys are also, technically, the Gramophone Awards. So with that, the choice is clear. BlackBerrys it is.

Disagree? Have arguments to the contrary? Go to the CrackBerry forums to vote and have your say.

Interview with Michael Hughes, Ring2s Co-Founder/Co-CEO

Ring2 Conference Controller for BlackBerry
Ring2 Conference Controller for BlackBerry

After pounding the conference floor at the Wireless Enterprise Symposium and hiding out in the demo theatres reviewing the myriad solutions on display at this year’s impressive show, we just had to consider the cunningly simple Ring2 Conference Controller to be one of the Best Ideas of WES 2007. The application allows call leaders to take remote control of their conference calls to see and control who’s on the call, solving those every day conferencing nightmares that we all face. We sat down with Michael Hughes, Ring2’s Co-Founder and Co-CEO, to learn more… 

My 43 Minutes with Jim Balsillie, CEO of RIM

The CEO of BlackBerry meets the CEO of CrackBerry

The CEO of CrackBerry Meets the CEO of BlackBerry

The 2007 Wireless Enterprise Symposium (WES) is now a part of history. For those who don’t know, WES is an annual event hosted by Research in Motion that brings together more than 3,000 IT professionals and business executives from around the globe and presents the latest information to help organizations define and implement wireless strategies. The majority of the 10 million + BlackBerry devices in use throughout corporations worldwide are represented at WES. Over the three-day event I walked up to countless attendees and posed the question “How many Blackberrys on your BES (BlackBerry Exchange Server)?” to the typical response of either, 800, 8,000, or 18,000+.

I attended the Orlando, Florida, event in my role as CEO (CrackBerry Executive Officer) of, which I co-founded less than three months ago and aims to be a one-stop shop for all things BlackBerry. I’m a loyal user (some would argue “abuser”) of the BlackBerry device and thought there just had to be a and took the initiative to start it. The site offers something for every BlackBerry user -- from a store that offers the latest in blackberry accessories and software, to BlackBerry news and reviews, community forums, and even a “Rehab” section for those BlackBerry users who need to get their BlackBerry use under control. The term “CrackBerry” was inspired by the addictive nature of the BlackBerry handheld device, and has become so ubiquitous that Webster’s dictionary named “CrackBerry” the 2006 “New Word of the Year”.

I missed the deadline for applying to get a WES press pass, so I went to the event as a “regular attendee”. While I did report back to with breaking news from WES, I decided to spend the majority of the time getting to meet and know as many people in the BlackBerry world as possible. I came back to Winnipeg with many new friends and acquaintances in the BlackBerry world (it was well worth the trip!).

Between the conference and parties WES offered 3-days of non-stop action, but the highlight of the event for me had to be the 43 minutes I got to spend with Research in Motion’s Co-CEO Jim Balsillie. RIM’s other Co-CEO is Mike Lazaridis and these two men were the stars of the show. At WES they are the celebrities –Jim and/or Mike could often be seen running between meetings and appointments, always accompanied by a small entourage of dark suits. This is probably to be expected considering they do head a multi-billion dollar company. Unless you have an appointment, trying to get their time and attention would be difficult to say the least.

James Bond at the WES 2007 Verizon Wireless Party But I lucked in. On the second night of WES, after the breakout sessions and vendor showcase had wound down for the day, I attended a WES party sponsored by Verizon Wireless. The party had a cool James Bond “BlackBerry Royale” theme, and it was a few hours into the night when I almost bumped right into Jim (I had my head down checking my e-mails on my Berry as I walked - hence how I took note of the time I began talking to Jim).

I of course recognized Mr. Balsillie -- I stuck out my hand and while we shook I said, “Hi, I’m the guy who started”. In retrospect it wasn’t the most eloquent thing I could have said, but it probably was fitting considering I was wearing a bright green t-shirt that was stamped with a bright orange logo.

Jim wore a big smile, said “Hello” right back at me and seemed open for conversation. After all, it was a party and we were each holding a drink.

Forty three minutes later I walked away from Jim with him getting in the last words, “It was good to meet you!”

While it wasn’t an interview I garnered lots of information and advice from the RIM CEO. I wasn’t taking notes, but what he said is permanently engrained in my memory. Initially, I talked to Jim about our successes in launching and gave him my overview of what we had accomplished so far and what we are working towards achieving. I never asked him if he had heard of the site or if he had visited it, but my two days spent at WES so far had indicated to me that most people in the business of BlackBerrys had heard of us (with a domain name like word travels fast!). 

Best of WES 2007 - SimulSays

And the winner of the BEST of WES 2007 "MUST HAVE APPLICATION AWARD"  is.... the envelope please ....


SimulScribe Best of WES 2007 "MUST HAVE APPLICATION" winnerSimulSays is the kind of application that will actually change your life - you will never login to your voicemail ever again.  SimulSays uses cutting edge voice recognition technology to convert your voicemail messages into text (voicemail messages are converted to text using the proprietary SimulScribe service). From there, SimulSays automatically downloads the transcribed message to your phone, along with the original audio. You have the option to either read your voicemail (as you would any email) or you can choose to listen to the audio via the SimulScribe app.

Another Major benefit to SimulSays? If you have multiple messages (let's say 7 of them), you can go through the messages on your phone in any order you choose. There's no need to read/listen to the first message before going onto the second or third. So if Message five is the important one, you can go straight to it. Think back a few months and you will remember Steve Jobs talking about the iPhone having this type of technology. Well, SimulSays beat Apple to the punch and brings it to your BlackBerry! Visual Voicemail is already here!

I spent a lot of time at WES playing with the SimulSays application, as at first glance the demo I saw almost seemed to good to be true (it worked that unbelievably well). But I stress tested the application - I left voice messages, I had other people leave voice messages, and in every instance within a few minutes of leaving a voicemail the messages appeared on the phone, with the text translations being spot on.

Drawbacks? Right now SimulSays only works on the BlackBerry Pearl, BlackBerry 8800 and BlackBerry Curve. If you're running an older Berry then you are out of luck! So right now I personally have a bit of a love/hate relationship with SimulSays. I LOVE the application, but HATE the fact I'm running a BlackBerry 8700r. But that's ok - I was looking for a reason to upgrade and this application is IT.

Visit SimulSays' website for more details... Congrats SimulScribe! 

What a Girl Wants

christina aguilera blackberry

A recent top ten finalist on this year's Maxim Hot 100, Christina Aguilera shows off both her new BlackBerry and her new friend, Reg, who really does look like he is wondering how he got this close to Christina without being tackled by her bodyguards.

Pocket PC Versus BlackBerry

comparing blackberries

We came across this interesting blog post this morning. Jon Collins muses on the relative benefits of pocket pcs and BlackBerries and finally comes down on the side the Berry

“Certain events can cause the need for a quick decision: it is strange how a single incident can completely upturn one’s perspective on things. It all started quite innocuously, as I was looking into changing mobile service providers. On offer was a Blackberry as part of a very attractive deal – even more attractive given that I could still use the new SIM in my existing, unlocked PPC device. Furthermore the Blackberry on offer was the 6800 – that’s the one which comes with all the bells and whistles such as an MP3 player – this appealed greatly to my inner magpie. As I saw it, this scenario offered the best of both worlds, enabling me to continue my “evaluation” indefinitely and get a sexy new device in the bargain.” Read the rest of the post here.

Stones Getting No Satisfaction From RIM

blackberry Stones

Research in Motion is under somebody's thumb and can’t get a break. The maker of our beloved BlackBerry is now getting hauled into court by The Rolling Stones of all people.

Mick, Keith, Ron and Charlie were allegedly signed to promote a special version on the BlackBerry but the deal was never followed through. Presumably it was a BlackBerry with a big tongue and lips on it with an extra big screen for septuagenarians with failing eye sight.

After paying an initial licence fee in full, RIM chose not to produce the device, and the Stones’ agents are now seeking $5-million (U.S.) in damages for not following through on the campaign. Of course this is all small change to both RIM who forked over $612.5-million to settle a patent infringement suit last year and just a percentage of the Stones’ annual $60 million income.

According to a story in the Globe and Mail “In this era of celebrity promotions, officials at RIM have always preferred to let their wireless technology speak for itself. The company has for some time hinted at deals in the works with the entertainment industry, but for now is letting its two co-chief executive officers be the face of RIM.”

Frankly, the Stones are an old choice to promote the BlackBerry, as the telephone still came in two parts when the Rolling Stones first hit it big.

Best of WES 2007 - Yahoo! Go

And the winner of the BEST of WES 2007 "It's About Crack'n Time Award"  is.... the envelope please ....

Yahoo! Go

That's right. When I walked away from the Yahoo booth at WES 2007 I was from then on a changed man. For some people, this award might come as a bit of a shock, as it's old news - Yahoo! Go with integrated services for BlackBerry became available over a year ago. So maybe that means it should have been Best of WES 2006, but I wasn't there, so 2007 it is!

Yahoo! Go - Best of WES 2007 If you have never seen this application before, I challenge you to download it and give it a go. I think you will agree with me that Yahoo! Go sets a new benchmark for Mobile Applications. From my experience I've always considered WAP sites and Berry Applications to be a compromise in terms of looks and functionality when compared to their desktop counterparts.

Yahoo! Go sacrifices nothing. The mobile app/site brings great looks, combined with all of the content and services that Yahoo's web site offers. It's fast, as well as easy to navigate and use (my only complaint - trackwheel users will have to hold down the Alt Key to move from the Menu Carousel to the Main Content Area. Trackball users it's all good).

Check out the online demo here (it doesn't use a berry but we'll forgive them for it), and when you're ready to download it on to your blackberry point your mobile browser to

Function over Fashion, or Fashion over Function. When it comes to Apps for your BlackBerry you can't have both. That's what I always thought. And I was wrong. Yahoo Go! proved you can have your cake and eat it too.  Congrats!!

Job Flash - J2ME/BlackBerry Developer @ bitHeads, inc.

bitHeads Job Posting** Job Flash **

bitHeads, based out of Ottawa, Canada, is seeking a Senior J2ME/BlackBerry Developer for an approximately 2 month term.

Click Here for More Details on this Position... 

The United Colors of BlackBerry

color pearls

The Boy Genius Report clearly has someone on the inside these days as his latest report indicates that the new consumer friendly BlackBerry might be replacing the Pearl as early as September of this year.

The BlackBerry 8120 will have five new color choices(black, red, blue, titanium and gold), a two megapixel camera, GPS, and WiFi. TBG didn’t have confirmation on a US carrier but was betting it would be T-Mobile.

He also reports that Rogers in Canada will be launching the updated BlackBerry in September, with an un-named US carrier getting a “one week jumpstart.” As usual.

Chalk Releases New Training Software For BlackBerry

chalk banner

Chalk Media Corp. today announced that it has developed a mobile version of its 'Chalkboard' online training software to work on the BlackBerry. This software enables the rapid creation of media-rich and enterprise-controlled mobile content that can be pushed securely to wireless handheld devices and tracked.

Chalk showed off its new mobile software at the Wireless Enterprise Symposium in Orlando and apparently had a positive reaction.

“We have had a lot of interest in our new software from Fortune 1000 companies and government agencies attending the Wireless Enterprise Symposium,” said Stewart Walchli, President and CEO of Chalk. “The software works with the BlackBerry Enterprise Server and allows corporations, government agencies and other organizations worldwide to prepare a full array of content and to deliver that content to users on their BlackBerry. Video, audio, animation, text and graphics can be pushed to the user in a highly secure environment, and the software tracks the viewing of the content by each recipient and reports the details back through the BlackBerry Enterprise Server.”

Chalk’s online training software and content help organizations train their employees, business partners and customers. Read the full release here.

Additional information is also available at Awards - the Best of WES 2007's BEST OF WES 2007 awards are coming!

That's right! Starting tomorrow we will start the BEST OF WES 2007 Awards Show. A new "Crackie" winner will be announced every day or two or three (until we run out of Crackie's to give!). And in true style, the award names will be a bit whacky, and the information 100% good. You'll want to spread the word and check in with us each day. 

The first Crackie to be announced? I call it the It's About Crack'n Time award (others might call it the Best in Show award). Either way, it's going to the application that has set a new standard for how blackberry applications should look and act. For me personally, every app I install onto my Berry will now be compared to the winner of this Crackie.  Stay Tuned... BEST OF WES 2007

CrackBerry Addiction India Style

blackberry india

It seems CrackBerry addiction is a worldwide phenomenon. Just read this article, "Oh BlackBerry, I pray to thee" from the India Wall Street Journal.

In India, where a lot of executives communicate with business associates in North America, it means either sitting up all night answering e-mails or finding a way to put the BlackBerry away for the night. As a result, Indian BlackBerry users are trying to find ways of balancing their lives.

A BlackBerry user for 18 months, among India’s early converts, B.A.N. Sharma, vice-president of an information services company in Chennai, details how he went through a BlackBerry “life cycle” -- initially quite attached and obsessed—then resentful. Finally, he learned how to use the BlackBerry as a tool to better balance work and family, instead of intruding on them.

The author of the article also interviewed our very own Kevin Michaluk at the WES Conference and took some sage advice from North America back to the subcontinent on how to balance life and business. We are not sure if he is taking it though.

BlackBerry Shutdown "Will Never Happen Again"

jim balsillie at WES Research in Motion co-CEO Jim Balsillie said  the sort of problem that led to the BlackBerry shutdown last month “will never happen again.” Balsillie offered up the promise in a rare interview that will appear in eWeek this week.

Balsillie called the event that shut down e-mail for BlackBerries in the United States last month “a process thing.” 

The RIM VIP explained the outage was the result of an unlikely string of events – the failure of a minor software upgrade to a caching subsystem was followed by the failure of the failover system resulting in a subsequent overloading of a second system. “It was a process error that we had that's been fixed. It shouldn't have happened, and it won't happen again,” Balsillie said. “It wasn't a corruption of any form of the infrastructure, and that's very important.”

Balsillie said the company is "fault tolerating" the system. “We're clearly putting a lot more fault tolerance into the system, a lot more capacity.” Added Balsillie. “We're having domain failover architectures; we're having business continuity solutions experts, so from that component piece of the infrastructure, that's not going to happen again.”

Balsillie refreshingly admitted that he was taking the issue very seriously and that the outage affected a lot more than people’s e-mail for a couple of hours. The U.S. government is RIM's biggest customer, and with BlackBerry devices used across by everyone from intelligence agencies to the military to law enforcement it is critical the system can be relied on.

BlackBerry Curve Video Review

Our friends over at Shiny Shiny put together a nice video overview/review of the BlackBerry Curve.  The device reviewed is a pre-production BlackBerry Curve, so be sure to also check out our member review of one of the first consumer-purchased BlackBerry Curves.

David Spade faces a BlackBerry Intervention

So this is what happens when your BlackBerry Abuse really becomes a problem?! 

Washington State Bans Driving While Texting (D.W.T.)

Driving While Texting Banned in Washington StateYesterday, Governor Christine Gregoire of Washington State signed into law a ban on 'D.W.T.', or 'Driving While Texting'. The law applies to all mobile devices, including the BlackBerry.

Says Governor Gregoire: "Would you read a book or newspaper while you were driving? No!... Then why would you text while driving?"

Other states have already banned talking on cellphones behind the wheel, unless a headset is used. The new 'D.W.T.' law would be the next logical step.

The fine for getting caught 'D.W.T.' is $101. Not very much for the high-powered business exec to shell out. In fact I would assume they would file it under 'the cost of doing business'. However it IS a start. 

This new law will surely make roads and driving conditions in Washington State safer for all. Take note other US states and Canadian Provinces... This law seems to make sense to me for the safety of all. hits Fox News Atlanta! on Fox 5 News Atlanta

What a week for! While I have been at WES in Orlando meeting tons of great people and spreading the word (I have sooo many good stories and posts to make over the next month from WES), another loyal member of has been even HARDER at work making known to the world!

A HUGE thanks and congrats goes out to our CrackBerry Forums moderator Navilyn, who represented on a Fox 5 Atlanta piece called "For Gadget Addicts, Turning Tech Toys Off May be Hard to Do."

Click here to Watch the Video!  

WES 2007 - RIM Announces BlackBerry PBX Functionality

berry pdx

Another big announcement from WES has Research in Motion showing off its BlackBerry Mobile Voice System (MVS), which promises to make the BlackBerry an extension of an enterprise's PBX system.

RIM announced at a Tuesday session at the Orlando symposium that the MVS “would enable access to PBX functionality through a new intuitive menu interface.” It was also allow users to have one "Reach Me Anywhere" phone number.

Desk phone functions such as transfer, park and extension dialing will also be made possible through the system.

The system integrates the MVS client itself, MVS connectors (a part of BlackBerry Enterprise Server) and the Ascendent Voice Mobility Suite. RIM said that routing calls through a corporate PBX allows logging or recording for compliance purposes.