RIM has acquired Tungle, whose calendar application could help BlackBerry smartphones and the PlayBook tablet in their battle against Android and Apple's iOS.
Research In Motion has acquired Tungle, an application that
syncs users' calendars to streamline scheduling and eliminate snafus like
"Tungle is a leading provider of cloud-based calendar and
scheduling services that makes it easy for users to share their availability
and schedule appointments regardless of their choice of desktop, mobile or
cloud-based calendar," read an April 27 note posted on Inside
BlackBerry, the Official BlackBerry Blog. "Tungle connects users on Google,
Yahoo, Facebook, TripIt, Plancast, Outlook, iCal, LotusNotes, LotusLive, and
Tungle joins other recent RIM acquisitions designed to
bolster the BlackBerry manufacturer's software portfolio. In February 2010, RIM
purchased Gist, whose Web-based application manages personal and
professional contacts from Microsoft Outlook, Gmail, Yahoo Mail, Facebook,
Twitter, LinkedIn and Salesforce.com. Gist's algorithms prioritize contacts
based on frequency and timing of messages-a potentially useful feature for any
RIM could be looking to buttress its software offerings at a
time when the company faces not only increased competition from other
smartphone makers, but the need to make its new PlayBook tablet a hit with
consumers and businesses. A variation of the PlayBook's QNX-based operating
system will reportedly find its way onto BlackBerry smartphones, which
currently run the BlackBerry 6 OS.
New messaging and calendar features could allow RIM to
maintain its traditionally strong position in those areas. Tungle and Gist
assets could also inform the native email and calendar apps due to appear on
the PlayBook, although RIM has offered no firm release date for those updates.
Currently, PlayBook owners can only access Hotmail, Yahoo
Mail, Gmail, and AOL Mail accounts via icons that connect to a built-in
browser-that is, unless they use the BlackBerry Bridge feature, which displays
data from a nearby BlackBerry on the tablet's larger screen.
The PlayBook arrived on store shelves April 19, following a
spate of lukewarm and negative reviews. Specifically, many reviewers cited a
lack of apps and a user interface that at time felt "half-baked" or unfinished,
even as the tablet's high-end hardware attracted some praise. RIM has priced
the PlayBook at $499 for the 16GB model, $599 for the 32GB model and $699 for
the 64GB version-enough to place the tablet roughly in the middle of current
tablet pricing, and toe-to-toe with the iPad 2, whose 16GB version retails for
$499, 32GB for $599 and 64GB for $699.
Longer-term, however, some analysts position RIM as a
notable-but not dominant-player in the tablet market. According
to an April 11 report from research firm Gartner, Apple's iOS will dominate
that market through 2015, with a 47.1 percent share, followed by Google Android
at 38.6 percent and RIM with 10 percent.
Nicholas Kolakowski is a staff editor at eWEEK, covering Microsoft and other companies in the enterprise space, as well as evolving technology such as tablet PCs. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, Playboy, WebMD, AARP the Magazine, AutoWeek, Washington City Paper, Trader Monthly, and Private Air. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.