RIM has announced that it will begin to offer a Wi-Fi-enabled BlackBerry device by the end of the year. The news came from RIM co-CEO Jim Balsillie at the JP Morgan Technology Conference that took place earlier this week. RIM will treat Wi-Fi as just another cellular network with the difference that it will assume that the “airlink is insecure.” To address that, all voice and data transmissions will be encrypted. This approach will allow RIM to easily handle handoffs from Wi-Fi over to cellular networks as customers move about.
Balsillie explained RIM’s late entry to this space by saying that “Wi-Fi was overhyped. I was not a big believer in it for the first two or three years because it was hyped as something that would subsume everything, that you would get rid of your cell phone.” Or perhaps RIM is finally realizing that it could be left behind if it does not support fixed mobile convergence (offering both cellular and Wi-Fi) as more and more mobile operators are doing.