Cisco Brings WebEx To BlackBerry, Symbian, Windows Mobile


Cisco Systems has further mobilized its WebEx conferencing and collaboration offering, extending it to Research In Motion's line of BlackBerry smartphones and mobile devices running Symbian and Microsoft Windows Mobile operating systems.

At Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, Tuesday, Cisco said WebEx will be available on those smartphones come April.

Adding WebEx Meeting Center to BlackBerry, Windows Mobile and Symbian extends the conferencing application's mobile reach. At MacWorld in January, Cisco unveiled its WebEx Meeting Center application for the Apple iPhone, which lets users participate in WebEx meetings and enables users with current WebEx subscriptions to schedule and host meetings as well.

From compatible devices, users can attend a scheduled meeting and view presentations, applications and desktops, live annotationsmeeting information and participant lists from their smartphones, said Alex Hadden-Boyd, director of enterprise marketing for Cisco's collaboration software group.

Hadden-Boyd said access to WebEx meetings is browser-based and offers audio and Web conferencing on 3G or Wi-Fi networks. The application also supports integrated data on Wi-Fi and audio on 2G.

Previously, smartphone users could attend conferences and only hear the audio, Hadden-Boyd said.

"You're no longer a second-class citizen by only being able to use the audio," she said.

The first devices to support WebEx Meeting Center include the BlackBerry Bold 9000, the BlackBerry Curve 8900, the BlackBerry Storm, the Nokia E71 and the Samsung BlackJack II, Hadden-Boyd said. The Web-based application is available in 10 languages.

There is no cost to attend meetings via smartphone, she said, adding that regular phone and data charges by mobile operators do apply. For meeting hosts, a WebEx Meeting Center host account is required to schedule a meeting from a computer.

The new service also enables meeting hosts to invite attendees via SMS, or text messages. Essentially, the host invites the attendees to an ongoing meeting via SMS, the attendee replies by sending "1" and is joined to the conference. That feature works with any SMS-enabled device. Hosts are charged per SMS and attendees are charged based on the SMS terms offered by their operator.

WebEx Meeting Center for BlackBerry, Symbian and Windows Mobile requires no download, as users attend meetings via a Java browser, Hadden-Boyd said. While the iPhone application, which is downloadable through Apple's AppStore, lets users chat through the WebEx system and also host or start a meeting, the smartphone version does not offer those capabilities.

With WebEx Meeting Center now available for most popular devices, Hadden-Boyd said Cisco is looking to branch out further to Google Android devices and the Palm Pre in the near future.