BlackBerry Launches Protect. Service Finds Lost Handsets, Saves Data

Research In Motion (s rimm) today introduced a limited beta of BlackBerry Protect, a free service to protect personal data in the case of a lost handset. With BlackBerry Protect, a consumer can remotely wipe data, lock the device, add contact information to the home screen or activate the handset’s ringer to help find the device. Consumers can also use the service to backup or restore data to or from the handset over Wi-Fi or to transfer data to a new BlackBerry.

BlackBerrys in the business world already support similar remote device management through BlackBerry Enterprise Server, but as RIM continues to extend beyond the enterprise into the consumer world, a solution such as BlackBerry Protect is desirable. Those providing services to the handset market have noticed. Earlier this month Synchronoss purchased FusionOne, which provides remote backup and synchronization. Other mobile platforms either natively support remote data and device integrity — Google Sync (s goog) recently added remote device wiping for iPhone, Windows Mobile and Nokia E-series handsets while Android 2.2 brings similar security enhancements to Android phones through Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync. Apple’s MobileMe service can also find a lost iPhone or iPad, and there’s no lack of third-party software options to lock or track lost handsets on other platforms.

With more people relying heavily on portable devices to manage their calendars, data and other personal information, solutions such as BlackBerry Protect become increasingly important. If a phone is lost, is destroyed or falls into a lake, consumers will be able to get their data back quickly and ensure that such valuable information doesn’t fall into the wrong hands. I think back years ago to when I kept everything in a paper day-planner — I’d be completely lost at work if I left my portable binder at home. These days, I keep as much data as possible in the cloud, and fittingly, the BlackBerry Protect beta client works in the browser. The new service supports certain 8000 and 9000 series handsets running BlackBerry OS 4.6.1 or higher.

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