Utility software

RIM releases official BlackBerry desktop software for Mac

It’s been a long time coming, but after promises, previews, and unexpected leaks, BlackBerry officially released the desktop Mac client for its popular smartphone platform on Friday.

Prior to this application, Mac BlackBerry owners had to rely on third-party software such as Mark/Space’s The Missing Sync for BlackBerry, or PocketMac for BlackBerry, which RIM had included along with its handsets.

BlackBerry Desktop Manager for Mac allows users to sync their contacts, calendar, notes, and to-do data between their Macs and BlackBerrys as well as installing and managing applications for the phone. On the Mac side, data can sync with iCal, Address Book, Mail, or any other applications that use Mac OS X’s SyncServices, such as Microsoft Entourage.

In addition, BlackBerry owners can also make encrypted backups of their devices and update the BlackBerry system software when new versions are available. And if you live in a household that has as many BlackBerrys as I have iPods, then no worries: BlackBerry Desktop Manager for Mac allows you to sync multiple devices with the same Mac.

Among the most interesting features of BlackBerry Desktop Manager for Mac is that it lets you sync your music and playlists from iTunes. Your mind might immediately conjure images of Palm and its cat-and-mouse games with Apple. How did RIM succeed where Palm failed?

The key here seems to be that RIM doesn’t try to inject support for the BlackBerry into iTunes or have its devices pretend to be something they’re not. Rather, BlackBerry Desktop Manager for Mac just references the iTunes library stored on your hard disk and shows you your list of playlists in its own application—something Palm could no doubt have done as well, had it been willing to spend the time. In fact, RIM released BlackBerry Media Sync, allowing Mac and PC users to sync with iTunes and other media software, in December of last year.

BlackBerry Desktop Manager for Mac is a free download and requires Mac OS X 10.5.5 or later, a BlackBerry running version 4.2 software or higher, and at least iTunes 7.2.

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