Light Reading
Superior technology and customer loyalty give Blackberry a head start over mobile apps rivals

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
Flash Poll
From The Founder
It's clear to me that the communications industry is divided into two types of people, and only one is living in the real world.
LRTV Interviews
The New Wave of IP + Optical Integration

11|21|14   |   04:29   |   (7) comments


At the Alcatel-Lucent Technology Symposium, Heavy Reading senior analyst Sterling Perrin talks about how SDN has reshaped the discussion around packet and optical integration.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei Highlights at BBWF 2014

11|20|14   |   3:40   |   (1) comment


Broadband World Forum is one of the world's largest telecoms, media and technology events with over 7,800 senior executives from across the globe converging on Amsterdam every year to identify the Next Big Thing. BBWF is an exciting place to meet the entire industry under one roof and identify the latest in network innovation, service optimization and customer ...
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
How Will BCMS Stimulate Margin for Broadband Operators?

11|19|14   |   6:52   |   (0) comments


In BBWF 2014, Liu Shuqing emphasizes the value of FMC 2.0 based full service experience by throwing light on the BCMS solution. The underlying principle of this innovative technique is to create network robustness and driving network from connection oriented to ACE – BAND oriented infrastructure, in which applications, cloud, and user experiences will be an asset ...
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
SingleFAN3.0: Better Connected Experience

11|19|14   |   3:06   |   (1) comment


At the BBWF 2014, David Hu, the VP of Huawei Access Network Product Line, talked about the future of access networks – SingleFAN3.0: faster broadband, wider coverage, and smarter connection.
LRTV Interviews
Basil Alwan Interview: The Road to Cloud

11|19|14   |   09:09   |   (0) comments


Alcatel-Lucent's head of IP and Transport talks about the migration towards a web-like networking environment, the impact of the cloud, SDN and NFV, and the yet-to-be-announced FP4 chip.
LRTV Documentaries
FairPoint Makes a Fair Point About Analytics

11|19|14   |   1:56   |   (1) comment


The US-based communication service provider gets to grips with advanced analytics, tackling data and breaking down the silos within its own business.
LRTV Documentaries
Analytics Lets C Spire Get to Know Subs

11|19|14   |   3:01   |   (2) comments


It's all about the data for US operator C Spire as it uses analytics to personalize its customer service down to individual subscribers.
LRTV Interviews
Nuage Branches Out With SDN: CEO Interview

11|17|14   |   9:32   |   (0) comments


Sunil Khandekar, CEO of Alcatel-Lucent's SDN-focused unit Nuage Networks, talks about the opportunities and challenges of breaking out of the data center into wide-area networks.
Light Reedy
Telecom Analytics Grows Up

11|14|14   |   1:15   |   (4) comments


The big data analytics debate has moved on from a year ago, with some experts suggesting it's no longer a technology challenge.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei Compass

11|14|14   |   3:17   |   (1) comment


At OpenStack Summit 2014, Shuo Yang, Huawei Principal Cloud Infrastructure Architect introduced Huawei Compass, the software tool for solving customers' problems on the journey of OpenStack Cloud.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei's Cloud Strategy in European Region

11|14|14   |   2:56   |   (1) comment


At OpenStack Summit 2014, Dr. Gotz, CTO of Huawei IT in European Region introduced Huawei's cloud strategy in European region.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei's Contribution on OpenStack

11|14|14   |   5:58   |   (0) comments


At OpenStack Summit 2014, Dennis Gu, Huawei Chief Architect of Cloud Computing introduced the relationship between OpenStack and cloud computing, and Huawei's contribution on OpenStack.
Upcoming Live Events
December 2, 2014, New York City
December 3, 2014, New York City
December 8-10, 2014, Reykjavik, Iceland
February 12, 2015, Atlanta, GA
April 14, 2015, New York City, NY
May 6, 2015, McCormick Convention Center, Chicago, IL
May 13-14, 2015, The Westin Peachtree, Atlanta, GA
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
Infographics
Irish Telecom outlines the rise of VoIP technology, including its adoption within businesses and their perception of its quality.
Hot Topics
Bell Labs Chief Slams 'Toy' Networks
Robert Clark, 11/19/2014
$38.3M: Ain't That a Kik in the SMS
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 11/20/2014
Do You Have a 2020 Vision?
Dennis Mendyk, Vice President of Research, Heavy Reading, 11/21/2014
Google, AT&T, BT Unite on Network Data Models
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 11/20/2014
The New Wave of IP + Optical Integration
Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-chief, 11/21/2014
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed