NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Note to planet small business: BlackBerry has gone all app happy.
Research in Motion
just released its latest attempt to stay relevant in the
iPhone era: Its new Torch 9800 smart phone. The unit sports a sliding touch-activated screen, a legit BlackBerry-class QWERTY keyboard and enough memory and processing power to keep the unit at least in the running with uber-devices like the iPhone 4,
Droid X and
But the fact is, for small businesses at least, the phone is really only part of the story. Now, it's what kind of third-party software is available on a phone like the 9800 to make it a truly kickin' business tool. To wit, RIM has been working hard upgrading its so-called BlackBerry App World. And while the online app service has its issues -- there is lots of tricky configuring, and it's nowhere near the depth of either the Apple App Store or the Android Market -- there are still some valuable small-business nuggets to be mined.
MemoryBooster -- RAM Optimizer ($4.99)
: If RIM devices have an upside, it's that old-school software-based RAM boosters really do seem to help increase performance of even the most rudimentary BlackBerrys. And with a bit of luck, MemoryBooster should be able to eke out some fresh power from that stinky old unit you still carry. Basically what this software does is fool your RIM's processor to manage some tasks usually handled by the device's memory.
Do not expect MemoryBooster to bring your ancient unit back from the dead; older devices will still basically crawl. But the software is worth the $5 for a modern unit. Done right, it should boost your e-mail, file speed and overall device oomph.
Mobile Checkbook ($4.99)
: While there are plenty of mobile finance apps floating around, I like what Ann Arbor, Mich.-based Mobatech is doing with Mobile Checkbook. Basically a cool menu-based account and ledger-management tool, this app brings together different financial account information into a series of directories that are fast and easy to navigate. You won't get the graphics-oriented, no-learning-curve "Mint"-like experience with Mobile Checkbook, but the software clearly tells the scratch you have in the bank. And that's all you need.
Though it takes a bit of tinkering, Mobile Checkbook can even export your data as well. Which means you can actually do some account management on the road. Bean counters, rejoice!
Call Time Tracker (free)
: Call Time Tracker is exactly that: a dead simple, free app that logs time for phone calls as you make them. Basically a tagging tool that lets you attach remarks to calling events, Call Time Tracker lets you take the simple steps of tracking what you do for a client and when you do it. The system records your tags and forwards you a log via e-mail after the fact. Call Time Tracker takes some discipline and organization to use properly. Bad tagging really won't help you at all. A month of messed up, pell-mell tags? Who needs that!
But with some practice, this handy, free app you get at least a feel for where your hours are going during the day. And considering that your BlackBerry is basically your business's mobile hub, it really can help you stay organized and do better invoices. Call Time Tracker is a nice little bit of code.
Jonathan Blum is an independent technology writer and analyst living in Westchester, N.Y. He has written for The Associated Press and Popular Science and appeared on Fox News and The WB.