BlackBerry smartphones to discontinue Gmail application

Google Inc., the company behind Android platform will discontinue supporting Gmail application for BlackBerry smart phones by Research in Motion (RIM) Ltd. beginning November 22, 2011.

As of Nov. 22, 2011, the Gmail app will no longer be available as announced by the California based company in their blog posting. However, BB users will still be able to use the application if they already downloaded it. “Users may continue to use the app, if installed, however it will not be supported by Google, or available for download starting November 22. BlackBerry users can continue to access Gmail through the mobile web app at gmail in their BlackBerry web browser,” Google said.

RIM is having difficulties in finding effective ways to prevent a growing decline in the smart phone market customer base. With a growing market share for iPhone and or Android devices, RIM needs to find ways to attract new customers to replace the old clients they lost over Apple and other Android based devices. The Google announcement came after the company introduced a similar application for iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch devices which later on has to be pulled out of circulation after app users began experiencing errors.

Research in Motion tried to downplay the significance of Google’s action in a statement issued to Wall Street Journal. “Since 2009, RIM has incorporated native support for Gmail in BlackBerry [operating system] 5.0 and above, which means that a separate Gmail app is not required,” RIM management said. This statement could mean that majority of BB users prefer accessing their Gmail using BB’s Internet Service as an alternative for Gmail’s native app pre-installed in Black Berry smart phones.

However, it cannot be denied that Google’s action will pose an inconvenience for majority of BlackBerry users especially those who primarily rely on their Gmail accounts. The native Gmail application provides users the opportunity to access their emails on the go and once Google stop supporting it through periodic maintenance and enhancement, BB gmail app users will be the first to experience nuisance. This could also become an indicator for RIM management that a lot of their customers may transfer to other more affordable Android based devices although BlackBerry still enjoys a sizeable market share.

Without elaborating further, Google announced that one of the reasons they are dropping Gmail app development for BlackBerry is that they plan to focus more on the mobile browser experience.

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