& cplSiteName &

RIM's Unified Theory

Light Reading
LR Mobile News Analysis
Light Reading
3/21/2006
50%
50%

Michael Pate has never met Jim Balsillie, but he's been in touch with the BlackBerry CEO.

"I've gotten three or four emails from [RIM] management, from a couple of VPs and the CEO," says Pate, the director of IT for Houston-based Complete Production Services Inc., an oilfield services firm that has around 100 Blackberry users. "They were more form letters, just letting me know 'We're sympathetic to the situation with the lawsuit, we apologize, this is now behind us and we're moving forward, it's not going to alter our strategy or impact our future direction.'"

The charm offensive from RIM brass came in the wake of the settlement of the drawn-out patent dispute with software holder NTP Software Inc. . It's part of a concerted effort on the part of the Waterloo, Ont.-based mobile email leader to reassure its existing enterprise customers and to fend off the growing threat from devices running Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT)'s Windows Mobile 5.0. (See RIM, NTP Come to Terms and Mobile Email Gets More Pushy.)

RIM has made plenty of news since the lawsuit was settled on March 3, including a partnership with Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) for instant messaging via Google Talk and an aggressive marketing effort for its new line of Blackberry 8700 devices. The biggest news, however, was RIM's March 10 acquisition of Ascendent Systems , a San Jose-based provider of mobile VOIP systems. (See RIM in Voice 'Push'.)

The Ultimate Goal The Ascendent acquisition is squarely aimed at RIM's long-range goal: taking Blackberry beyond enterprise mobile email and making it the single mobile device for unified messaging and business applications. That strategy will also put it in competition with the carriers that currently offer Blackberry service to enterprise customers -- in particular with Cingular Wireless, which on February 22 released its OfficeReach product, a VPN service that integrates mobile phones with office landlines, voice messaging, and so on.

In the view of Forrester Research Inc. wireless analyst Ellen Daley, who met last week with RIM management, RIM's relentless focus on superior technology and usability gives it a powerful advantage in its looming competition with Microsoft for control of the booming enterprise mobile messaging market. (See Poised for Takeoff?.)

"Before I met with [RIM], I thought Microsoft would win the applications battle just because they're Microsoft," Daley remarks. "But I am continually impressed by RIM's focus on the engineering side, on building seamless technology and making it all work for the user. They really do have the best technology."

That comment is echoed by enterprise customers whose loyalty to RIM was shaken, but not completely stirred, by the uncertainty of the NTP lawsuit.

"No one else comes close to providing the same functionality and low-overhead maintenance" that RIM does, Pate explains. "We looked at Treos, Microsoft Smartphones, all of them. The best they can do is match Blackberry, so why go through the pain of switching to get what you've already got?"

Rapid App Development One company that made the switch is law firm Keesal, Young and Logan, which has offices in Long Beach, San Francisco, Seattle, Anchorage, and Hong Kong. According to information director Justin Hectus, the firm -- with roughly 80 people using mobile email -- switched from Blackberry to Good Technology Inc. 's GoodLink mobile email system about three years ago because it wanted a solution that could run on any device via any carrier -- and the uncertainty surrounding the NTP lawsuit only confirmed that choice.

"We have five different devices in play, using three different carriers," explains Hectus. "RIM has made some movement on the carrier side, but on the device end, I still think Good is a much better fit."

Hectus adds that Good also offers user-friendly tools that allow rapid development of specialized enterprise applications, including a mobile time entry system that allow attorneys to log billable hours while on the road. Therein will lie the real test: when companies consolidate mobile communications -- including voice, data, and email -- on one device and begin rolling out business services such as field-service and salesforce automation applications. The new Palm Treo 700w, for example, runs mobile versions of Microsoft Outlook and Office, including Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.

The question, as Forrester's Daley puts it, becomes not whether other applications will run on the devices, but how easy it is to get applications from third-party vendors to run.

In that sense, while RIM is considered a proprietary system (particularly by "open standards" competitors such as Good), it may have an advantage, at least temporarily, over its looming rival in Redmond.

"It's not all about pushing Microsoft applications out to mobile devices, but other apps as well," says Daley. "I haven't seen them be agnostic like RIM can afford to be -- and after all, the interoperability idea is not exactly in Microsoft's DNA."

A Deep Well Hectus, whose company uses a Montreal-based company called Pensera to provide specialized applications, disagrees.

"In terms of application development we tend to be more on the customized side," he says, "and I think the one thing Microsoft has done really well is the direct integration with Exchange. That's a great step in the right direction, and unfortunately it's bad news for RIM and for Good in the long run. In the short term the Microsoft platform may not do as well, but it's like everything else: in the long run they will figure it out and get better and better."

One thing Balsillie can count on is the deep well of trust that RIM has built up in mobile email -- not to mention a customer base that still dwarfs its nearest competitors. As law firms, oilfield service companies, and other industries start rolling out new applications to their workers, and integrating their office PBXs with wireless phone systems, RIM has a head start it would be wise not to squander.

"Microsoft is still way behind RIM in my opinion," concludes Pate. "That doesn't mean they won't catch up -- Blackberry needs to be cognizant of them. But Microsoft will have to do some heavy marketing to get companies like ours to switch."

— Richard Martin, Senior Editor, Unstrung

(0)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
From The Founder
Download our complete guide to de-risking NFV deployment in 2016, including:
  • An eight-step strategy to deploying NFV safely, based on input from the companies that have already started virtualizing their production networks.
  • Interviews with leading executives at Colt, AT&T, Deutsche Telekom, Cisco, Nokia, ZTE, Ericsson and Heavy Reading.
  • Flash Poll
    Live Streaming Video
    Prepping for the Future: Upskill U Explained
    During this short kick-off video, Doug Webster, Vice President of Service Provider Marketing, Cisco, and Light Reading’s CEO & Founder Steve Saunders give an overview of Upskill U.
    LRTV Interviews
    Ditching the Slash & the Orchestration Wars

    5|3|16   |     |   (2) comments


    SDN and NFV have been inextricably bound with each other for so long that on a conceptual level, smooshing them together into one catch-all phrase – SDNFV – is now justifiable, according to Dan Pitt, executive director of the Open Networking Foundation (ONF). Light Reading spoke to Pitt at the NFV World Congress, where he explained that the next ...
    LRTV Custom TV
    ZTE TV Connect Highlights

    5|3|16   |     |   (0) comments


    ZTE gives us a tour of its booth and new products at TV Connect in London.
    LRTV Custom TV
    Deluxe's Unified Delivery Solution

    5|3|16   |     |   (0) comments


    Join Alan Breznick of Light Reading and visit the Deluxe booth at NAB! Here you'll find Deluxe's Unified Delivery Solution, OTT video, virtual reality, HDR, 4K and much more!
    LRTV Interviews
    Verizon Puts Gray Boxes in the Shade

    5|2|16   |   04:33   |   (1) comment


    When it comes to the white box trend, "gray" boxes, which have a slight proprietary twist, don't give service providers and end users the advantages they're seeking, according to Verizon's Vice President of Product and New Business Innovation Shawn Hakl.
    LRTV Custom TV
    Dealing With a Disrupted Video Market

    5|2|16   |     |   (0) comments


    Ericsson's Simon Frost discusses how traditional pay-TV providers can cope with the big changes wrought by the rise of OTT video and IP technology.
    LRTV Custom TV
    The VNF Responsibility of Red Hat

    5|2|16   |     |   (0) comments


    At MWC, Caroline Chappell of Heavy Reading visits the Red Hat booth and sits down with Chris Wright to talk about the responsibility the VNF needs to take on in order to ensure the operators get the carrier-grade performance they expect for their network.
    LRTV Interviews
    AT&T Expert on the Key Pillars of UC

    4|29|16   |   03:58   |   (0) comments


    Vishy Gopalakrishnan, AVP of product marketing at AT&T, talks about the three developments that are making unified communications and collaboration secure and reliable for enterprise users.
    LRTV Documentaries
    LRTV Report: Mobile Core Innovation

    4|28|16   |   25:32   |   (0) comments


    Hear from multiple industry experts from Deutsche Telekom, SK Telecom, Heavy Reading, Huawei, Cisco, Ericsson, Nokia, NEC and many more about developments in the mobile core as operators virtualize their IMS and evolved packet core systems and prepare for a 5G world.
    LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
    NFV World Congress Highlight

    4|26|16   |     |   (0) comments


    The highlight of the NFV World Congress contains exciting telecom news. Join us for an inside look at Huawei's ICT 2020 plan and its latest collaboration with industry leaders.
    LRTV Interviews
    Unified Comms Finds Its Voice

    4|25|16   |   03:44   |   (0) comments


    Peter Quinlan, VP of UCC Product Management at Tata Communications, talks about the evolution of the unified communications and collaboration services sector and how voice is now a big part of current developments.
    LRTV Documentaries
    So... What Do We Do Now?

    4|25|16   |   03:24   |   (0) comments


    After a long hiatus, Max Dingman, the CEO of a GeeGhiz, returns for a motivational board room pep talk.
    LRTV Documentaries
    NAB 2016 Highlights

    4|21|16   |     |   (0) comments


    Light Reading's Cable/Video Practice Leader Alan Breznick climbs down from the slots to tell us about the latest news in broadcast technology at NAB 2016 in Las Vegas.
    Upcoming Live Events
    May 23, 2016, Austin, TX
    May 23, 2016, Austin Convention Center
    May 24-25, 2016, Austin Convention Center, Austin, TX
    September 13-14, 2016, The Curtis Hotel, Denver, CO
    December 6-8, 2016,
    June 16-18, 2017, Austin Convention Center, Austin, TX
    All Upcoming Live Events
    Infographics
    A new survey conducted by Heavy Reading and TM Forum shows that CSPs around the world see the move to digital operations as a necessary part of their overall virtualization strategies.
    Hot Topics
    Ultra-Broadband Summit, Hong Kong
    Iain Morris, News Editor, 4/27/2016
    Amazon AWS Reports $2.6B Quarterly Revenue, Up a Colossal 64%
    Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 4/28/2016
    WiCipedia: Woman Cards & Bitch Switches
    Sarah Thomas, Director, Women in Comms, 4/29/2016
    Sprint CEO: Our Spectrum Is for 5G
    Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 5/3/2016
    Amazon & Other 'Big 4' Cloud Providers Crushing Competitors
    Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 4/29/2016
    Like Us on Facebook
    Twitter Feed
    BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
    In this latest installment of the CEO Chat series, Craig Labovitz, co-founder and CEO of Deepfield, sits down with Light Reading's Steve Saunders in Light Reading's New York City office to discuss how Deepfield fits in with the big data trend and more.
    Grant van Rooyen, president and CEO of Cologix, sits down with Steve Saunders, founder and CEO of Light Reading, in the vendor's New Jersey facility to offer an inside look at the company's success story and discuss the importance of security in the telecom industry.
    Animals with Phones
    Sloth Mail Click Here
    Sloth mail -- somehow even slower than snail mail.
    Live Digital Audio

    Of all the tech companies in the Valley, Intel has made the most aggressive commitment to building a diverse and inclusive workplace culture. It's doing so by taking concrete, measurable steps, making a large financial investment and through a commitment to complete transparency about its progress. In this radio show, WiC Director Sarah Thomas will be joined by Shlomit Weiss, Intel's Vice President, Data Center Group, and General Manager of Networking Engineering, who will share with us why Intel is tackling this huge challenge, how and to what effect. She will also discuss her unique experiences leading development of Client SOC development in the past and today leading development of all of the chipmaker's silicon hardware for networking IPs and discrete devices and managing a team of 600 engineers across Israel, Europe and the US.