I was one of the first people to use a BlackBerry. In fact, I was on a trial program for the first six months. When the trial was over I told them that
the service was great, but that I would prefer to have platform choice. This was when the first generation of Pocket PCs emerged and Sierra Wireless (with their AirCard product line) and Novatel Wireless (with their Minstrel and Merlin products) both took advantage of the market by producing PC cards which provided wireless modems and software services on the Palm and Pocket PC platforms.
I suggested to product management that if it could put its modem in a PC card (or preferably a Compact Flash (CF) card) and provide the necessary desktop software and integrate with a Palm/Pocket PC inbox I was sold. The real magic of BlackBerry is not the “”thumb keyboard”” it is the wireless, inbox synchronization software at the desktop and the always on, low battery consumption modem in the device.
I told them I would be more than willing to pay the same price as a BlackBerry device, for a PC card/CF card option. From a component perspective, the unit would have had a significantly lower cost of production, making it very profitable for them. I also believe they would have taken significant market share from Novatel and Sierra Wireless whose devices, although capable of Internet access, are used mostly for e-mail. Of course RIM had made a commitment to their form factor and they had to stay focused to ensure they cleared out inventory, but I think that focus may have cost them the game.
Now, everyone is getting into the add-on card game, this year has already seen the announcement of a CF card GSM/GPRS module for Pocket PC from Pretec and Audiovox (of course RIM also makes a GSM/GPRS modem but are still only offering it on their platform).
I think it may be too late to create the market advantage they could have had 18 months ago, unless they get very aggressive on new platforms and new partners and even develop their own CF card option.
There has been a lot of confusion with the dot-com/dot-gone hysteria that followed the necessary failure of a majority of hastily-funded Internet businesses. The Internet should still be part of any marketing plan for old and new businesses. What failed were undercapitalized business models that had hoped to draw revenues from a medium that had not yet matured and is still in the process of settling down, most likely in fragmented markets. These markets are country-wide, state-wide, municipal-wide and even community-wide.
Your series will be appreciated as it will show examples of businesses about to mature and revive the belief in the entrepreneurial spirit. Words we now fear are innovation, idea, concept and risk. It is too bad because they are part of any business plan (provided you read the small print about forward-looking statements).
Don’t like the tax? Blame CATA Alliance, CAAST and related associations.
This is yet another part of the age-old battle to determine whether software is a service or a product. As an open source/free software consultant working in a part of the industry that treats software as a service, I have been extremely frustrated by the various lobbying by software manufacturers to try to have software designated a product.
They can’t have it both ways. They can’t lobby for the treatment of ideas as property by using the term intellectual property rather than the more correct temporary intellectual monopoly, and lobby government to get more favorable conditions under GATT rather than GATS, and yet now complain that they are being taxed.
I will continue to promote free software which has a “”tangible, personal property”” value of zero. Maybe having their manufactured “”intellectual”” property be appropriately taxed might provide additional incentive to switch business models to servicing free software.
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