CIO.com confirms rumors that I've been hearing for at least six months: RIM is preparing to release native BlackBerry utilities for Mac users. According to CIO.com's source, who requested anonymity, the software tools are being prepped for the first half of 2009.
This is great news for any BlackBerry user who also happens to be a Mac fanatic. It's hard enough to reconcile using a 'Berry when all your friends and colleagues are on iPhones -- but the desktop software situation can make even the most die-hard CrackBerry fan reconsider his or her mobile device choice.
Right now, there are two ways to connect the BlackBerry with OS X: PocketMac, which is free and just got an update, and The Missing Sync, which is $39.95. Neither option allows you to upgrade your BlackBerry's onboard OS, make backups of your programs or settings, or reliably install software directly onto the device. You can sync your contacts and calendar (but be careful, the wrong step might nuke them), access and transfer photos and music, and charge the BlackBerry, but that's pretty much where the Mac experience ends.
As of right now, the only way a Mac user can actually upgrade the OS on his or her BlackBerry is to use BootCamp or a virtualization program like VMWare Fusion or Parallels. It's the kind of PITA that prevents people like me from hacking around with their phones, unless I have a fully updated VM handy. If you don't have an Intel Mac or you don't have a Windows license -- you've basically got to find someone who does, and borrow their computer.
Thankfully, not only does it look like native Mac tools are FINALLY going to arrive, future OS updates will be done OTA (over the air), putting an end to this sort of nastiness once and for all. Frankly, I can't wait until I can actually manage my BlackBerry without having to run a virtual machine.