A screen shot has slipped through the cracks of a new collaboration tool for BlackBerry called Groups. At first glance, it looks like a simple way of sharing tasks, messages, location, chat, calendar and contacts. BlackBerry Unite! had a stab at small group collaboration, but never really took off. At first glance it seems like a cool, small project that will see minimal fanfare and moderate use, but it certainly highlights Research in Motion harnessing their Network Operation Center (NOC) for something more than e-mail. (The NOC is RIM’s central hub in Waterloo for all BlackBerry transmissions before they go out to the internet or carriers, and has been the point of contention for a few national securities.)
BlackBerry Messenger has been using the NOC for awhile to connect BB-users, and was actually one of the few channels of communication that remained unclogged during 9/11. Of course, the BlackBerry App World has been RIM’s most notable expansion of the NOC as just a dumb pipe to a service provider, but it also provides a lot of opportunity for developers as well – we saw DevelopIQ working on a really cool whiteboard sharing app at BBDC that used their Bluetooth pen and BlackBerry Messenger. This Groups app will hopefully continue the trend of RIM taking a hold of the NOC as a launchpad to reach their users directly – the only concern is how much they will bend to the carrier’s will when doing so. Keep an eye out for more information on BlackBerry Groups from the Wireless Enterprise Symposium starting next week.