Blackberry and beyond – Alternatives

Just on the heals of the announcement of the TRA that the Blackberry services are going to be blocked by TRA and Etisalat and Du are going to follow the instructions given to them to do so. I would like to mention how bad the decision is in terms of trying to keep up with technology and an image in the middle east. Dubai has spent the better half of the last 10 years trying to make itself a global destination for everything from travel to business. So it would seem that a decision to block a key technology element would hamper that image. In fact like I have mentioned before, I think that this is a huge scam considering that the telecom providers were pushing the blackberry at discounted prices just a couple of months back. I find it highly unlikely that the telco companies did not know about the oncoming ban from TRA well in advance. Is it just me or does anyone else smell a conspiracy here ?

But wait, before the sun could rise on another day, solutions have started emerging with blackberry users in the UAE, to achieve close to the same functionality of the Blackberry services. All these software and apps have been trying to break into your Blackberry vying for your attention. But with Blackberry services being available it was difficult. Anyway, before I get into the Apps and where you can find them, I would like to share the response from Du regarding the Blockage from TRA. Check out the response as well as my two cents here below.

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Du Answering consumers’ questions

1. Which services will be affected and when?
As per the instruction received from the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority, BlackBerry® services will continue until 10 October. On 11 October Email, BlackBerry® web browsing, social networking, and instant messaging services on BlackBerry® devices that are supported as part of the BlackBerry® Internet service, will be suspended. Our customers will be able to continue using their BlackBerry® devices for Voice, SMS, and MMS as these do not use the BlackBerry® Internet service and will remain unaffected. Customers will also be able to browse the web using the du browser. Other applications which do not use BlackBerry® services will also not be impacted. While roaming, the Unlimited BlackBerry® Data Bundle will not be available after the suspension. Standard data roaming rates will apply.

Looks like Du and Etisalat will make merry on the decision of TRA. Suspension of roaming was not something that the block would have enticed them to do. They are now making sure that they can maximize profit from the event.

2. Will you be able to provide me with alternatives to the impacted services?
Yes. We will provide you with alternative solutions. We are working to ensure that you continue to enjoy uninterrupted email and Instant messaging services. In the next few days, we will provide you with detailed information on the alternative solutions. Please visit our website www.du.ae/blackberry for updates.

Without the biggest USP of Blackberry the Blackberry services, alternatives will be just that, Alternatives. In fact even have listed some out later in the post, have a look.

3. Will I have to incur any upfront cost for getting the alternative solutions?
We assure you that you will not face any upfront cost, so please continue enjoying our services with complete peace of mind.

Oh, Thank God. I would have imagined that Etisalat and Du would have charged the consumer for changing “their” mind and blocking services. And What services will a Blackberry user enjoy when you block all of them ?? lol

4. Will I lose my contacts and emails on my BlackBerry®?
We are working to ensure that you do not lose any of your contacts and emails when moving to the alternative solutions.

That will sure be an icing on the cake, loose all contacts as well as email after getting all the services blocked. The more I am reading this the more I feel sorry for all those who own a Blackberry now.

5. What happens to the current BlackBerry® Data Bundle I am using?
As the BlackBerry® service will be suspended on 11 October, the current BlackBerry® Data Bundle (Unlimited national and Unlimited international Data Bundle) will also stand suspended as of this date. You will however be able to move to an alternative solution with its own data plan before this suspension date. Details of the alternative solutions will be announced within the coming days.

This Alternative solution sure would be very very inviting right?? cos otherwise, its gonna be Blackberry bye bye from UAE. So…emails, messages through messenger etc will be charged at a pre-paid or montly subscription fee, whereas now, they are free on the BlackBerry® Data Bundle. Not only are we forced to pay for services we had access to for free in the past, but we are also giving away out privacy to the government and TRA who will be able to read all your private messages to your friends or your wife…wonderful… I think its time people start typing in some foreign language.

Alternative Apps for the BlackBerry Functionality

What you need to remember very well is the fact that the unlimited data package now gone, any alternative to the Blackberry messenger or email or the browsing service for that matter is now going to cost you money, data charges in the UAE are not the cheapest in the world. In fact you would pay close to 250 Dhs for a 500 MB bandwidth per month, whereas in a country like India a 2 GB connection comes for less than 10 Dhs (100 Rs) a month. So all apps need to be now installed with caution. I would be surprised if the Telecom companies Etisalat and Du actually come up with a solution to reduce the data charges, in which case it will help the guys using Androids, iPhones etc as well along with the BlackBerry. So with that note of caution here are some alternatives:

BlackBerry Messenger Alternatives

Cnectd :
Cnectd is a mobile messaging and social networking application for smart phones. Cnectd lets you chat across iPhone, BlackBerry, Android and Symbian devices. In addition Cnectd allows you to find new friends in your area, share media with your contacts and more. Cnectd alerts users of new messages instantaneously ensuring that you’re always Cnectd!

Get it here : http://appworld.blackberry.com/webstore/content/10097

LiveProfile:
LiveProfile is the best way to stay connected with friends. LiveProfile is a messenger and social utility designed for Android, BlackBerry, and iPhone. LiveProfile is your fix with many of the same BBM features and more. This is still under final development phase and shold be out by the time that the ban is imposed.

Check out Updates about it here : http://www.liveprofile.com/

PMessenger
Unfortunately BBM (or BlackBerry Messenger) is a closed protocol protected by RIM. This is why a version of pMessenger exists on BlackBerry. (Currently on BETA TEST). Once you have downloaded, or bought pMessenger, it is completely free on our parts. But you must have unlimited DATA PLAN from you Carrier since pMessenger use your internet connection.

Accessible from your Blackberry here :  http://www.pmessenger.net/bb

BlackBerry Browser

Opera Mini and Bolt are the two alternatives for the Browsers. Look for them in the Blackberry Appworld here: http://appworld.blackberry.com/

BlackBerry Email Alternatives

GMAIL Mobile:
A very good alternative is the client for your Gmail, this application uses similar PUSH technology as the Blackberry Mail and will be a decent alternative, although it does not provide all the features.

Get it here : http://www.gmail.com/app

Yahoo GO! Client:
Another Alternative for the Blackberry messenger is the Yahoo Go application, that gives you access to your emails.

Get it here: http://go.yahoo.com/

LogicMail IMAP client
LogicMail is a J2ME E-Mail client supporting IMAP and POP, and designed to run on RIM BlackBerry handheld devices. Its goal is to provide an alternative to the service-oriented “push” E-Mail system that the device normally provides, so we can also use our conventional E-Mail services. The inspiration for this project came from the now defunct Mail4ME project, as well as some of the initial protocol code. The big focus in this client is on usable IMAP support, which seems to be an afterthought in some other clients.

Get it here: http://www.logicprobe.org/proj/logicmail