English: BlackBerry Bold 9000 connected to T-Mobile USA and a DD-WRT Wi-Fi access point. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
While the BlackBerry loyalist community eagerly awaits the release in late January of new RIM BlackBerries and the new OS 10, RIM has been updating to OS 7 with a key feature that those who still talk will like. As GigaOm's Kevin Tofel reports, RIM has officially released the previously in beta BBM Voice, making the compatable BlackBerry devices now a dual OTT device by making Voice an over the top play just like BBM is to texting/SMS as long as the device is connected to Wi-Fi. Ironically, it comes out at about the same time that T-Mobile is shutting down USA hotspots, and basically neutering their UMA based calling service as recent BlackBerries have not had that service book active on the soon to merge carrier.
This is important because it basically means that bundles of voice minutes can be reduced and that mobile operators to RIM are being relegated to being pipes for distribution and connectivity, and no longer seen as the only game in town for customers to connect to make voice calls.
Wi-Fi calling on BlackBerries was always wanted, but never really easy. Vopium, a former client, cracked the code, and ShoreTel acquisition Agito also had hacked the Wi-Fi stack, to the ire of former RIM leadership. But fresher eyes, like Alec Saunders, who understand what was missing, have turned things around.
Client Truphone has also shown off Wi-Fi calling at BlackBerry Developer events, but for OS 10. My view is that everyone in the VoIP world that wants to crack the enterprise market will be working on an OS 10 BB client, except for Skype. Last I heard from their folks, there's no desire from them to be on BlackBerries any time soon.