Telefónica and Research In Motion have announced plans to introduce BlackBerry Unite! - a free PC-based software offering that will allow small groups, such as a family or small office, to stay connected and "enhance communications and coordination".

In addition to wireless email and web browsing, BlackBerry Unite! software will provide groups of up to five users with mobile access to shared calendars, pictures, music, documents and other desktop content through BlackBerry smartphones.

BlackBerry Unite! software will allow a group of up to five users to:

* Stay connected with wireless email and web browsing – enables easy wireless access to up to five supported email accounts (per user) using sophisticated wireless encryption security, allows shared contact lists and supports high-performance mobile web browsing.

* Coordinate schedules using shared calendars – provides a wireless shared calendar with the capability to check each others’ availability, set up or modify appointments and send reminders.

* Remotely access content – users can remotely download pictures, music, documents and other content on their desktop PC directly from their BlackBerry smartphone.

* Share photos and files - users can share photos and files with other group members directly from their BlackBerry smartphone.

* Remotely secure the smartphones – includes simple controls to enforce password protection or wirelessly erase a lost or stolen handset.

* Control smartphone use - includes customisable wireless settings to control certain uses for each individual, such as the ability to restrict long distance calls or certain online content.

* Protect smartphone content – contacts, pictures and other data from the BlackBerry smartphone can be backed up automatically over the air (via a cellular or Wi-Fi network) to the desktop PC.

Telefónica and RIM plan to make the BlackBerry Unite! software available as a free download beginning in November. There have been no announcements as yet about offering this service outside of Telefonica's coverage area.