Nokia's Email BlackBerry Jam

Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) has pooh-poohed suggestions that it will introduce a new BlackBerry client for its flagship E71 smartphone, but analysts say that Nokia will have to work more closely with RIM and others to actively evolve its wireless email strategy.

Unstrung had heard from a source familiar with the company that Nokia is planning to introduce a RIM client for its new smartphone. The Finnish phone vendor has had a licensing deal in place with RIM since November 2002 and offers a RIM connect client on some of its E-series phones but nothing yet for the newest handset. (See RIM's Big Score.)

"This is a problem when many businesses will only support RIM clients," suggests Gabriel Brown, senior analyst at Heavy Reading.

Nonetheless, a Nokia spokesman denied that a Blackberry client for the E71 is in the works. "We don't have any current plans to have a Blackberry client on the E71," says the spokesman. "We can't say it's never going to happen, but there aren't any plans now."

When Unstrung asked RIM whether it was going to make the Blackberry client available for Nokia's E71, a spokeswoman sent the following response by email: "RIM continues to work with various smartphone manufacturers (including High Tech Computer Corp. (HTC) (Taiwan: 2498), Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT), Nokia, Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications , and Palm Inc. ) to offer BlackBerry Connect to customers. Nokia offers BlackBerry Connect with the 9300i, 9300, 9500, E50, E51, E60, E61, E61i, E62, E65, E70, E90."

Nokia recently announced that it would no longer offer the software behind the firewall for enterprise solutions, a capability it acquired with the $430 million buyout of Intellisync in November 2005. (See Nokia to Buy Intellisync.) Instead, Nokia said it will focus on enterprise devices and partner with enterprise software providers such as Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT), IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM), Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), and others. (See Nokia Shifts Enterprise Strategy.)

The “glaring omission” in this strategy for Nokia’s new flagship E71 enterprise device is a Blackberry Connect client, according to analyst Ben Wood at CCS Insight , who added that he did not know if Nokia was indeed going to use the Blackberry Connect client on the E71.

“If Nokia is pursuing a[n enterprise] strategy focused on hardware, it would be logical to seek a Blackberry client for the [E71] device,” says Wood. “It would be a logical step for Nokia given their approach now for devices for the enterprise.”

Gartner Inc. analyst Ken Dulaney believes that "there will be" a new RIM client for the E71. "I know that Nokia is trying to upgrade the E-series to make it more business friendly and RIM and Microsoft are important to them," the analyst says in an email reply to questions.

"The problem with Blackberry Connect is that it generally is only available when the [mobile] operator decides to release it. You cannot get it independent of the device."

There have been rumors of a BlackBerry application center launch recently, which would compete with Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL)'s App Store and Google (Nasdaq: GOOG)'s Android Market. Early word suggests that a BB download store would still be linked to specific carriers but would nonethless make it somewhat easier for users to get applications for their phones that weren't already loaded onto the device.

RIM, which has a developer conference in Santa Clara, Calif. this week, only sent an emailed statement and hasn't responded to calls about work on a Nokia E71 client.

— Michelle Donegan, European Editor and Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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