RIM's Big Score
So what? you might say. It's just another licensing deal –- written in marketing doublespeak to boot -- in a week where RIM has already signed patent deals with PDA makers Palm Inc. (Nasdaq: PALM) and Handspring Inc. (see Palm To Use RIM Patents and Handspring To Use RIM Patents).
However, as a Lehman Brothers's research note on the deal says, this is a "strategic positive" for RIM. The company said in April it would offer other firms "a hardware and software platform" to develop devices and services based around the BlackBerry wireless email system (see RIM Looks to BlackBerry Spread). As far as we can tell, Nokia is the first major company to sign up for that initiative.
This is good news for RIM. The company desperately needs to diversify as it faces increasingly vicious competition in its core business, that of supplying pagers and compatible email software -- via carrier partners -- to corporate North America (see GRIM for RIM for all the gory details).
The deal with Nokia, the largest mobile phone manufacturer in the world, also gives the Canadian company much better access to European and Asian markets. Last time we looked (see Phone, Camera, Action!), Nokia had the best-selling handheld device in the European market, while RIM was nowhere to be seen.
"Nokia plans to build GSM/GPRS devices compatible with RIM's BlackBerry service," says the Lehman note.
We called up Nokia to find out more about its plans. "We don't comment on future products," spokesperson Laurie Armstrong told us.
Fine. What about the 9210 Communicator (the big phone with a qwerty keyboard)? Could Nokia use the RIM software with the Communicator? "We don't comment on future…" Hold on, the Communicator is an existing product! "Well, it's not a future product," says Armstrong. "But anything like that would be a future development.
So is the existing wireless email software offered by Nokia so bad that the company had to run to RIM to get some decent stuff? "I've not heard any comments like that," saith the loquacious Armstrong.
Basically, the message Nokia wants you, gentle reader, to take home from this announcement is that this deal extends its ennnterprise reach (or sumfink like that). For our part, we note that Nokia seems to be much more open to experimentation with the shapes and styles of its wireless devices these days (see Pics'n'Prices: The Nokia Set), so it'll be interesting to see what they come up with if they do produce an email-oriented device."
Still, at least Nokia actually talked to us. Despite repeated calls and emails, RIM wasn't able to rustle up anybody that could speak to us about this by press time. Must be a Friday thing…
— Dan Jones, Senior Editor, Unstrung www.unstrung.com