First out of the starting blocks for providing Canadian news service to the PDA is CanWest Global with its FP Infomart Mobile service. It is available for certain PDAs and cell phones. I had a demo earlier this week from my CanWest rep and was impressed.
She showed me how they have a discrete icon that shows up, for example, on the BlackBerry screen. Clicking on it pulls up a short menu based on the FPInfomart.ca menu. Amongst other things, one can access a list of major paper front page headlines, the “personal profiles” that are set up (news that is custom clipped), a news search tool, and company snapshots. The personal profiles are particularly useful–a couple of clicks and one can be scanning headlines and summaries of articles that the canned searches have pulled up since the last visit. To view the full article, simply click on the headline. I thought this aspect was very elegant, even easier to use than on the computer. It is just as easy to pull up the personal profile search results on the BlackBerry as it is to pull up an email message. Documents can also be saved for later access.
One could theoretically use the little web browser on the BlackBerry and search the FPInfomart.ca website, but that doesn’t always work. This FP Infomart Mobile service is so much easier and doesn’t have the download wait time that the browser has. Fewer clicks through to the various pages as well.
Apparently for devices such as cell phones that have sound capability, one can also have the news headlines read aloud by the device. What a great idea for those in a car or tired of looking at the small screen! I’m not sure how accessible this would be for someone with visual impairment however.
A demo is available from this page but I don’t know if you need a user password to access it. I had to sign on to view it.
Currently CanWest has a distribution agreement with Rogers only. Many law firms, however, have their BlackBerry service with Bell. Therefore, to make this available to the lawyers it really does need to negotiate an agreement with Bell. Once that happens, I am sure many shops will be clamouring for this service.
With regard to pricing, speak to your FP Infomart sales representative. It would probably be worth signing up for a flat rate on this service to allow unlimited access.