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By Dan Rowinski

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Free BlackBerry app can take the craziness out of conference calls

I spend a fair amount of my time as a reporter on conference calls. Usually it will be me, a public relations wrangler and some type of company executive, most of the time in sales or marketing. Perhaps a couple of topic experts will be in the background somewhere as well.

It is not always easy for me to keep track of all the calls I have scheduled. My Microsoft Exchange e-mail account tends to overflow with various forms of nonsense, from our internal editorial pings when a story is filed to the mass of PR lists that I have somehow gotten onto, to pitches from companies I have no intention of covering, and so on. When I do schedule an interview, often the e-mail with the call-in number and bridge is buried in the deluge and I scramble to find it two minutes before I am supposed to be on the call.

Research in Motion wants to help prevent that scenario with a new free BlackBerry app the company is releasing today. So, in the spirit of trying to organize my work life, I have decided to give it the App Of The Week.

What is it?

BlackBerry Mobile Conferencing is RIM's attempt to make joining a conference as painless as possible. The short of it is that if you add an event with conference call information to your calendar, it is integrated into the app, some when the call comes all you have to do is make one click to join. Calendar, call, click, done -- in theory.

The app will be available in the BlackBerry Beta Zone and work with devices running BlackBerry OS 5.0 or higher.

Here are the primary functions of the app:
  • Calendar integration: Links with your BlackBerry calendar to leverage one of BlackBerry’s core capabilities.
  • One-click join function: Pop-up display that can dial you into the meeting without your having to remember or dial phone and access code combinations.
  • Reconnecting: If you're inadvertently dropped from a conference call, the application allows you to reconnect with one click.
  • Storage of dial-in numbers: When there are multiple phone numbers in the invitation for participants in different locations, the application is designed to choose the most appropriate number for you.
  • Conference scheduling: Turn meetings invite into a conference call with a single click.
  • Ability to protect your host codes: When sending conference call meeting invitations using conference profile information, participants see only the information they need to join the call.
What is the buzz?

At its core, RIM is an enterprise communications company. With BlackBerry Messenger, integrated e-mail support and sophisticated contact storage, RIM's strength is providing great communications experiences. Hence, making conference calls an easier experience is a no-brainer. It functions sort of like the BlackBerry Mobile Voice System that hooks through the BlackBerry Enterprise Server to provide public branch exchange. It offers PBX conference call capability, just through an app.

Why does government care?

Mobile! BlackBerry! Conferencing! All the fun buzzwords that are attached to mobile use in the federal sphere apply.

If you have your phone after this weekend, this falls in to the category of “why not?” It is free, it is helpful and if it works, the type of functionality that you will eventually take for granted as part of the BlackBerry experience.

Why do I care?

Well, if I was still using my BlackBerry Bold 9000 (which I do sometimes, as a backup to my Android), this would be right up my alley for the reasons stated above. I am a disorganized, digital-ink stained wretch. Make my life just a little easier and more organized and I am with you all the way.

Posted by Dan Rowinski on Apr 08, 2011 at 12:19 PM


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