New BlackBerry OS at CES
Cape Town - The Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas is focused on mobile technology as companies look to increase their market share is a sector growing exponentially.
On Monday, sessions discussed the mobile ecosystem surrounding tablets and smart devices and on Tuesday, the topic was expanded to include social networking and advertising in the mobile context.
Research In Motion announced the launch of the BlackBerry 7.1 operating system for their smartphones which have been under pressure in the US from Android-powered devices, but dominate developing markets like South Africa.
RIM said it would begin rolling out the new operating system (OS) on Tuesday.
"The new releases of BBM, BlackBerry Traffic and BlackBerry Travel will be available on BlackBerry App World beginning today," the company said in a statement.
A new feature included in the new OS is BlackBerry Tag that allows instant sharing of content between BlackBerry users.
"By simply tapping their NFC enabled BlackBerry smartphone against another NFC enabled BlackBerry smartphone, users can make sharing easier than ever," RIM said.
The BlackBerry 7 OS recently met the security criteria for evaluation assurance level 4+.
RIM hopes that this certification will no doubt re-assure IT managers that BlackBerry devices are secure platforms for corporate communications.
To further entice business users away from competing devices, RIM also announced that the 7.1 OS allows users to enable the BlackBerry smartphone as a Wi-Fi hotspot that will be able to share its internet connection with up to five devices.
"The 7.1 update also supports carrier implemented Wi-Fi calling services (UMA/GAN where available), allowing users to make Wi-Fi calls from their BlackBerry smartphone that don't eat into their airtime minutes," RIM said.
Also at CES, Sony Ericsson, now wholly owned by Sony, introduced the Xperia NXT range of Android-powered smartphones.
"CES marks an important milestone for both Sony Ericsson and Sony with the introduction of the first smartphones from Sony," said Colin Williamson, Marketing Manager at Sony Ericsson South Africa.
These will feature the ability for users to consume content from Sony's vast library, but South Africans should not get too excited that the devices will be hitting local shores as the top-end devices (particularly the Xperia ion) are designed for high-speed LTE networks in the US.
The look is similar to the Xperia Arc range in SA, but the ability to connect to the Sony Entertainment Network should resonate with consumers.
The devices connect to multiple screens and the Xperia S is PlayStation certified, leading some to speculate on whether portable consoles will be consigned to history.
As mobile devices become more capable at consuming data, and with top-end processors like the 1.5GHz in the Xperia range, one of the critical issues that providers will focus on is the provision of upgraded networks capable of supporting the new technology, particularly in developing countries.
World Bank figures show that for every 10% increase in mobile penetration, there is a corresponding 0.8% increase in gross domestic product (GDP).
According to calculations by the GMSA, a 100% penetration of mobile in Africa would result in an additional $35bn in regional GDP.
"Our objective is to see that those who need the access the most are connected," Paul Lyons GSMA director for spectrum policy in Africa and the Middle East told News24.
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