Research In Motion’s famous BlackBerry outsold Apple’s iPhone for the start of 2009, pushing aside the device’s “just for business executives” label. And today RIM announced it’s activating a new push-notification feature in the BlackBerry API, weeks ahead of Apple’s attempt at doing the same.
RIM used this opportunity to further brag about it’s lead on Apple by announcing a Java-based push API system for third-party software developers. The move effectively takes public a facility previously reserved for enterprise server notifications (part of the way BlackBerrys keep your mobile email in real-time) and it gives apps like games and news services the ability to alert users to real-time updates. The new system works over cellphone network data or WiFi, and runs in the background without requiring the relevant apps to remain active. There are a couple of apps primed and ready to use the new system including 7digital, an online music store that lets you buy low-bitrate music for download on go, but then replaces it with full quality MP3s when the phone is connected to a WiFi network
The push service sounds very much like Apple’s own push notification system, which has been promised before but then delayed, and is due to go live with the updated iPhone 3.0 firmware next month.
The temporary slipping of the iPhone’s crown could simply be due to consumers waiting for the next-gen version to come out. Nonetheless, it will be interesting to see how Apple responds to RIM’s challenge.