Mobile Sites for B2B BlackBerry Users

In previous posts, I explored BlackBerry apps that help B2B marketers, B2B public relations professionals and B2B sales teams better communicate, travel, organize and share information. However, when it comes to the default smartphone many businesspeople are required to use, taking the time to research, find and download useful apps can often be more trouble than they are worth.

Mobile websites designed to work within the confines of a smartphone’s small screen, limited navigation and slower Internet speeds can often be a handy work-around for BlackBerry users frustrated with the phone’s limited selection of apps compared to the iPhone and Droid app stores.

Mobile web usage is expected to overtake desktop usage by 2015, and companies are beginning to make sure their websites provide a comparable experience. B2B BlackBerry users can leverage mobile sites to better utilize their phones’ browsers, with or without a huge selection of apps.

Here are some mobile sites that make the BlackBerry’s lack of apps a little easier to swallow:

1. Video

Of all of the mobile YouTube options that Google offers, the mobile site (m.youtube.com) is the only version that works on BlackBerry. On my BlackBerry Curve, videos open in the BlackBerry media player and can be viewed “full screen,” which doesn’t actually take up the entire screen but still loads at a decent rate. Visitors can search and upload videos as well.

Google has said its mobile versions of YouTube will receive more frequent updates and improvements than its YouTube apps. This challenge to app-based phone models (namely Apple) could be the beginning of a trend that leads to a bigger focus on mobile site features and usability.

2. Travel

On a BlackBerry, mobile sites for airlines such as Southwest (m.southwest.com), American Airlines (m.aa.com) and Delta (mobile.delta.com) allow passengers to modify flights and rental cars, check in at airports and view their flights’ statuses. Hotels.com (m.hotels.com) and Traffic.com (mobi.traffic.com) also provide travelers with mobile versions of their websites.

3. Business news

Almost all major news site now have mobile versions, including business publications. The Wall Street Journal (m.wsj.com), The New York Times’ Business Day (m.nyt.com/business) and Forbes Business (mobile.forbes.com) highlight business news important to B2B professionals in an easy-to-view format.

4. File sharing

While the Dropbox BlackBerry app’s official launch date is still TBD, the file sharing service’s mobile site offers users a clean, simple interface to share documents, photos, videos and more across multiple platforms. Dropbox users can browse files in their accounts, as well as download and view.

Which mobile sites do you have bookedmarked in your BlackBerry browser? How do they compare to the apps on your phone?

BlackBerry Apps for B2B Marketing

Sometimes, it feels like iPhones get all the app lovin’ – especially when you’re one of the 21 million people using a BlackBerry smartphone for work and/or play.

As the top mobile phone for businesses, it makes sense B2B marketers would be on the hunt for apps that make their jobs – and lives – easier. Unfortunately, as this blogger puts it, the BlackBerry App store can seem like a pawn shop that only sells used 8-track players, as app development for the BlackBerry hasn’t experienced the same fast and furious push as the iPhone.

Still, the BlackBerry was made with businesses in mind, and its applications can make B2B marketers’ jobs more efficient on the go. Here are a few that touch the platforms marketers are already – or should be – using to connect with customers:

1. Twitter

Twitter has changed the way companies market themselves, 140 characters at a time. There are many great examples of savvy B2B marketing campaigns set to the tune of Twitter, but not nearly as many useful apps to help marketers use the microblogging service on the go. Last week’s announcement of an official Twitter for BlackBerry app may change that, but it is not in full release yet. The app many BlackBerry users are familiar with is TwitterBerry, which was recently rebranded as OpenBeak. Despite the rebrand, the service’s clunky features have placed it behind newcomers with more features.

UberTwitter has become the Twitter client of choice for most BlackBerry users, including myself. This client lets you switch between multiple accounts (a plus for those juggling personal and professional accounts), see Twitter users near you and navigate through a clean, uncluttered interface. TwiXtreme earns points for its colorful layout (tagline: The first BlackBerry Twitter client that makes you happy) and Seesmic for BlackBerry is a good choice for users familiar with the Seesmic desktop version.

TweetGenius ($7.99) comes with a hefty price tag, and even heftier features (including a bit.ly URL shortener, extensive options menu and built-in themes) many users have deemed worthy of its cost.

2. Offline to Online Networking

Much has been made about the importance of online to offline networking, but what about taking “real life” encounters and sustaining them online?

After a day’s (or night’s, weekend’s or week’s) worth of meetings, conferences, trade shows and social events, business cards of potential customers can start to add up. CardSnap ($4.99) takes photos of these cards using your phone’s camera and converts them into contacts stored in your phone.

3. Blogging

Whether you write an in-house B2B blog for your business or contribute case studies, commentary and best-practices to a B2B industry blog, there are BlackBerry apps available for many of the most popular blogging platforms.

WordPress for Blackberry allows users to write posts, upload photos and videos, edit pages and manage comments from its mobile interface. Both WordPress.com and self-hosted WordPress (2.7 or higher) sites are supported. TypePad users can blog on its mobile BlackBerry application, while Blogger users are stuck with posting via email or text messages (SMS and MMS).

4. Location-based apps

They’re still a work in progress, but location-based apps and services are poised to be the next must-add to a business’ marketing mix. According to this article, there are now more than 6,000 location-based iPhone apps, 900 Android apps and 300 BlackBerry apps, putting BlackBerry users in the minority when it comes to becoming familiar with the platforms their clients and potential customers may be using. In addition, nearly half of the location-based service apps in the BlackBerry app store are paid clients, keeping adoption rates even lower.

Foursquare, a leader in the location-based app world that was called “the next Twitter” by Mashable, just introduced a free beta version for BlackBerry 8000 and 9000 series users. The service combines location updates with a user point system, and it has attracted the attention of businesses looking to reward and connect with loyal customers.

Loopt, a similar service minus the gaming aspect, also has a BlackBerry mobile version, and, while not an “official” in-house app, myKite for BlackBerry (previously known as BrightBerry) takes Brightkite on the road.

In the coming weeks, we’ll be looking at other BlackBerry apps that help public relations pros and sales teams better compete in the B2B space. What BlackBerry apps have you found helpful when it comes to managing your marketing mix, engaging on social sites or keeping up with the industry and competitors?