RIM to support IBM's Connections social networking software

Upgrades will also allow downloading, editing of Word files

Research in Motion Wednesday announced it will support IBM Lotus Connections on its BlackBerry smart phones, giving users access to the new social software for business.

The announcement, made at Lotusphere, is intended to give users the ability to collaborate on projects with teammates and share information to improve decision making, RIM said in a statement.

RIM previewed the application and said it would be available as a free download later this year.

Meanwhile, RIM also announced several updates to its BlackBerry Enterprise Server and its BlackBerry device software. The improvements provide document downloading and editing for the first time, giving users the ability to edit Microsoft Word, PowerPoint and Excel files directly on a BlackBerry smart phone.

In addition, a user will now be able to search for or retrieve an e-mail message directly from the e-mail server at the office, even if the message is no longer stored on the smart phone.

Another feature allows a user to check a colleague's calendar before setting up a meeting.

The improvements are also designed to simplify administration of BlackBerries for IT managers. One new component of the server in the next release will provide more monitoring, alerting, troubleshooting and reporting capability. Over the air software upgrades also will be possible.

The new BES version 4.1.5 will be phased in to new software releases in the first six months of 2008. The last version, 4.1.4 was released last summer, said David Heit, director of enterprise software management at RIM in an interview. The upgrades are free for existing 4.1.x customers, he said.

There are about 125,000 BES servers installed worldwide, and about 30 devices support it.

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