The Canadian company is in the throes of a patent infringement dispute that could shut down service for its handheld devices. A federal judge is expected to rule Feb. 24 on a possible injunction that would bar RIM from using technology to which NTP, an intellectual property company, claims it has patent rights.
RIM officials said it plans to include the contingency software on new devices soon and that the software can be activated remotely if the judge issues an injunction to shut down its service. [SF Chronicle]
BlackBerry users are pleased that Research In Motion plans to make workaround software available to keep the service working in the U.S., even if the U.S. District Court issues an injunction in the ongoing patent litigation. But IT managers want more time to test the software and decide whether it's the best contingency plan for their corporate BlackBerry users.
Take law firm Kirkland & Ellis for example, which has 1,500 BlackBerry users. CIO Steve Novak says it would take time to evaluate RIM's workaround and the impact it might have on the company's messaging systems.
Like Novak, many IT managers are eager to understand how the workaround software would work. So far, RIM has disclosed that its workaround designs include a software update called the BlackBerry Multi-Mode Edition, which RIM claims to have developed and tested already. The software can operate in different modes, such as "standard mode" during normal operation or "U.S. mode" if the service is shut down. It's wirelessly activated by RIM through its network operations center.
Existing customers will be able to download the software from RIM's website, allowing them to continue getting the BlackBerry service. If an injunction is issued barring the sale of new products, RIM says it will pre-load the software onto BlackBerry devices and incorporate it into the BlackBerry Enterprise Server software before the devices are shipped.
Few believe that the court injunction will come to be, as RIM is likely to settle before the court reaches such a decision; however, the uncertainty has been unsettling and no doubt many corporate users will be looking again at their purchasing policies and the decisions that led them to putting all their mobile e-mail eggs in one basket, service, and device.